Theatre review - Northern Ballet’s Dracula, Leeds Playhouse
PUBLISHED: 09:26 31 October 2019 | UPDATED: 09:26 31 October 2019
Happy Hallowe’en – Northern Ballet’s Dracula is streamed as live in cinemas throughout Yorkshire tonight. Here’s our review of the performance.
The story: The clue's in the name. Count Dracula has long captivated the audience - be it through book, film or Whitby Goth Weekend. He might have a history in Transylvania but he is very present in modern day Yorkshire. His blood-sucking quest for eternal life is perfectly pitched for a Hallowe'en date - and brilliant that this Leeds performance by Northern Ballet will be taken to the world on the spookiest of nights in a timely revival of the ballet first premiered in 2005.
The people: Our Count Dracula is brought back from the near dead at the start of the performance to reveal a rejuvenated count played by Riku Ito who brings menace, seduction and sinister form to the role throughout. We see young Lucy Westenra, played by Antoinette Brooks-Daw, succumb to Dracula's power and become his first victim, unleashing a chain of events as right-minded gentlemen attempt to thwart the evil count. There's an impressively intense performance by Kevin Poeung as Renfield, an insane patient of Dr Jack Seward (one of those trying to destroy Dracula). He enters the stage in a cage from the ceiling and is masterful in his portrayal of the crazed patient, light as feather with swift, jerky and implausible movements - in and out of his metal prison.
The performance: We see powerful performances up close in the intimate auditorium, enhancing the feeling of menace and drama with an impressive and suitably spooky set as well as fine costumes. Lucy Westenra's crazed and uncharacteristic behaviour at her own engagement party - after falling under the spell of Dracula - is full of crazed spirit and danger. Likewise, the seduction scene between Dracula and Mina, Lucy's best friend, played by Abigail Prudames, is sensuous, moving and believable, with some clever and complex moves. Dracula's menace is subtle and all the more sinister for it. The arrival of the crucifix-wielding Van Helsing, played by Ashley Dixon, bring pace and drama to the climax of the ballet.
The reason to see: truly timely and definitely worth a Hallowe'en date. Bold costumes, striking performances and an insightful telling of this alluring story of possession, passion and power. Get to the cinema tonight - it's on at cinemas throughout Yorkshire - or the theatre until Saturday.
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