Bela Lugosi, the 1920s screen star of "Dracula," used to promote his classic horror role with the claim that if one wanted to take a date to a production, "Dracula" was the appropriate choice.
He couldn't be more accurate. Seeing Raleigh Little Theatre's production of "Dracula" is a true test of how much your companion can endure. Between the annoying hysterics of ingenue Lucy and the incomprehensible utterances of Dracula and Dr. Van Helsing, this is a true night of fright.
The play's characters lack the depth and conviction necessary to parallel those in Bram Stoker's horror novel. The character of Dracula (Jonathon Demers) ridicules the king of all vampires as he appears little more than a flirtatious lady-killer with obnoxiously bad timing, light footsteps and a familiarity with Freudian psychology. Even worse, the thick accents of the characters of Van Helsing and Dracula make it difficult to discern what they are saying.
"Dracula" presents only morsels of Stoker's storyline and digresses from the relationships between the original characters.
The production is unique in its setting - while Stoker placed his tale in late-19th-century rural Transylvania, this production is set in a sanatorium in 1927 in Purley, England. The change was made possible by the invention of the airplane, which provided a means for the playwright to transport Dracula to England from Transylvania in one night without encountering the perilous light of day.