Tag Archives: Bram Stoker



The London Library



The London Library

Reviewed – 7th February 2019



“Creation Theatre are able to harness the power of the space to great effect, resulting in an exciting and engaging piece of theatre”


So it turns out that Count Dracula, whose Transylvanian castle has surely been the site of many a nightmare, was a Londoner the whole time. He was born, from the pen of Bram Stoker, between the shelves of the London Library. Appropriately, upon entering the library’s Reading Room on a gloomy February evening, it emits the same eerie atmosphere that Stoker was able to evoke through words over a hundred years ago.

This is the first play that the London Library has ever staged; at first, it may strike the sceptic as nothing more than a novelty. But Creation Theatre are able to harness the power of the space to great effect, resulting in an exciting and engaging piece of theatre.

Dracula himself never appears in person: instead, the story traces his effect on newlyweds Jonathan and Mina Harker. Jonathan is a solicitor who visits Transylvania on a business trip and returns a different man. Mina, who is staying in Whitby with her cousin Lucy, is witness to many strange events, including the kidnapping of children and Lucy’s sudden death. The play opens at the aftermath of these traumas, with the Harkers attempting to piece together what happened, and why.

Adaptor Kate Kerrow’s decision to re-order Stoker’s narrative might lead to some confusion for those who are unfamiliar with his expansive, detailed plot. Nonetheless, her narrative is engaging and allows the audience to play detective. Every role is played by either Bart Lambert or Sophie Greenham, who throw themselves into the action with relentless energy. Lambert thrives at playing extreme characters. He invests the mentally scarred Jonathan with a very believable sense of mania whilst avoiding the trap of caricature. Greenham is a strong ballast against the frantic energy of her co-star, providing a sense of reality through her grounded portrayals of Mina and Dr. Seward. They also give Kerrow’s narrative arc – on the theme of repressed sexuality – some credibility, though perhaps not enough for it to feel entirely at home in the story.

The third actor in the piece is obviously the Reading Room itself, every aspect of which is harnessed by the creative team. Director Helen Tennison draws our attention to different parts of the room: action happens in front of us, above us, behind us – even outside. Projections and sound effects initiate genuine moments of fear, even if they occasionally lean a little too far into melodrama. Designer Ryan Dawson Laight also fills the shelves with hidden treasures: not just props, but books and objects. The colourful Romanian-English dictionary slid between the old volumes is a reminder of the elusive Count’s omnipresence.

It remains a mystery how compelling this production would be without the aid of its setting. Nevertheless, the London Library and Creation Theatre must be praised for creating such a vivid piece of theatre. Dracula is a unique experience, especially for those with a love of books and their creation, or who have a fascination with libraries and the secrets that they hold.


Reviewed by Harriet Corke

Photography by Richard Budd



The London Library until 2nd March


Last ten reviews by Harriet Corke:
Debris | ★★★★★ | Theatre N16 | October 2018
Metamorphosis | ★★★★ | Bread & Roses Theatre | October 2018
Reboot: Shorts 2 | ★★★★ | The Bunker | October 2018
The Full Bronte | ★★★ | The Space | October 2018
To Kill a Mockingbird | ★★★½ | The Tower Theatre | October 2018
Jeannie | ★★★★ | Finborough Theatre | November 2018
Super Duper Close Up | ★★★★★ | The Yard Theatre | November 2018
Gentleman Jack | ★★★★ | Jack Studio Theatre | January 2019
The War Of The Worlds | ★★★½ | New Diorama Theatre | January 2019
The Ruffian On The Stair | ★★★★ | Hope Theatre | January 2019


Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com


Dracula – 3.5 Stars



Jack Studio Theatre

Reviewed – 11th October 2018


“it doesn’t always feel like the comedy is intentional”


Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ is a classic horror text and Arrows & Traps Theatre present a lively and committed production of it just in time for Halloween. For those who don’t know the story, Count Dracula is a vampire who feeds off the blood of the living, a murderer and seducer who has just moved from Transylvania to London. He is pursuing Mina Murray, the fiancé of Jonathan Harker, a solicitor who has recently been to visit the Count and is now plagued with visions of terrible things. As time begins to run out, a small team led by Professor Van Helsing, must fight to stop him.

The set, designed by Francine Huin-Wah, works really well. Set over two levels, the theatre is covered in thick castle stone and hung with ropes. The multiple levels allow lots of scope for use of the staging which Ross McGregor, writer and director of the piece, uses for maximum effect. The interweaving narratives are placed alongside each other so that sinister characters lurk in corners of seemingly innocent scenes, foreshadowing what is to come.

The cast is consistently strong. Lucy Ioannou as Lucy, and Beatrice Vincent who plays Mina, are a strong and lively duo. Cornelia Baumann’s Renfield is both terrifying and moving in her performance. Christopher Tester’s Dracula is wonderfully classic, sexual and camp, dressed in the long black robes of the night.

The production does seem occasionally confused – part comic, farcical almost, part genuine horror. A particularly jarring moment of this involves a cover of ‘Toxic’ by Britney Spears. Jump scares are followed by comic moments then another jump scare, and it doesn’t always feel like the comedy is intentional. There is a tendency at points towards melodrama but in this context the result is rather a fun one.

This is undoubtedly an entertaining and engaging evening delivered by committed and genuine performances.


Reviewed by Amelia Brown

Photography by Davor Tovarlaza



Jack Studio Theatre until 27th October


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Fear and Misery of the Third Reich | ★★★ | January 2018
The Tempest | ★★★½ | February 2018
Stuffed | ★★★★ | March 2018
Three Sisters | ★★★★ | March 2018
The Golden F**king Years | ★★★ | April 2018
Kes | ★★★★★ | May 2018
The Night Alive | ★★★½ | May 2018
Stepping Out | ★★★ | June 2018
Back to Where | ★★★★ | July 2018
The White Rose | ★★★★ | July 2018
Hobson’s Choice | ★★★★ | September 2018


Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com