Dietz's stage adaptation of Bram Stoker's classic 1897 novel
"Dracula" is a riveting blend of Victorian melodrama and
As directed for the Delaware Theatre Company by John Grassilli,
the play's tension and terror build gradually, and effectively,
until the audience has as much at stake in thwarting the plans of
the undead title character as do the desperate vampire hunters of
Just as Stoker's novel used the characters' letters and journals,
Dietz's script uses vignettes to move the story quickly along to the
appearance of the most famous of vampires near the end of the
opening act. Dracula's shadow, however, darkens the proceedings from
the play's start.
The playwright does wisely use humor to break the tension, most
noticeably in the initial meeting over dinner between Dracula
(played by Paul Morella) and solicitor Jonathan Harker (Peter
Bisgaier). The conversation is filled with double-entendre about
appetites and death.
Morella plays Dracula with biting menace and self-assurance as
the vampire turns to 1902 England as a fertile hunting ground for
Prime among his targets are Lucy Westenra (Krista Hoeppner), a
headstrong young woman, and Mina Murray (Gina Daniels), Harker's
financée. Hoeppner expertly plays a woman whose desires are shackled
by society's conventions and who ultimately falls victim to Dracula.
Daniels presents a no-nonsense, determined Mina.
Equally as practical as Mina is Dr. John Seward, who is in love
with Lucy. As Lucy falls ever deeper under Dracula's spell, he turns
to his old professor, Van Helsing (Nora Chester), for help. Van
Helsing has as much faith in science as he does, but unlike him, is
willing to look to the unexplained and supernatural for
After Lucy's death, the remaining four set out to destroy Dracula
- if they can.
The catalyst for much of the tale's action is Renfield, an inmate
in Seward's insane asylum who has an unquenchable appetite for
insects and small animals. Buzz Roddy portrays him with a fine
madness that mixes a desire to be given immortality by Dracula and a
conscience that forces him to warn the principal characters of their
danger and likely doom.
The result is a familiar tale made fresh again.
Reach Bill Hayden at 324-2887 or mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org