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REVIEW: Dracula: Mina's Reckoning (NTS, National Theatre of Scotland)

Updated: Apr 26

13 September 2023

Theatre Royal, Glasgow

⭐⭐⭐⭐


Liz Kettle as Dracula in Mina's Reckoning National Theatre of Scotland. Photo: Pete Dibdin

This new adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula is set in wild, nineteenth century Aberdeenshire and told with a uniquely Scottish voice. Relocating Dracula to the region said to have inspired Stoker - the north east of Scotland - works so well and feels so natural, the question is not 'why?', but rather 'why hasn't this been done before!?'


Dracula: Mina's Reckoning by the National Theatre of Scotland (NTS), is a co-production with Aberdeen Performing Arts and Belgrade Theatre, Coventry.


The play opens in an Aberdeenshire asylum, 1897.


When an exhausted and dishevelled Mina Murray arrives, the patients of the psychiatric hospital - many of whom have been locked up for being "unreasonable women" - listen as she recounts her horrifying experiences with a mysterious, terrifying creature.


Dracula Mina's Reckoning National Theatre of Scotland. Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic

The opening scenes in the hospital and indeed the whole play, are full of unexpected humour. The women in this tale are not as obedient and subservient as those in the original material. I love that playwright Morna Pearson has asked "What if Mina was allowed to join in?" And that forms the basis for this new spin on the classic tale.


The cast are an all-women, non-binary ensemble, and together they tell this unique version of Bram Stoker’s gothic classic tale wonderfully. Maggie Bain is fantastic as director of the asylum, Dr Seward. A protégé of the legendary Professor Van Helsing, this version of Dr Seward is calm, stubborn and hilariously arrogant in his attitude towards the women in his care and in his life.


We soon leave the asylum to accompany Jonathan Harker (Catriona Faint, in another brilliant performance) on his journey to meet a Count in Transylvania. The Count is interested in purchasing a remote property in Aberdeenshire; he has heard tale of the driech and dreary weather there, and that suits him just fine.


Dracula Mina's Reckoning National Theatre of Scotland. Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic

It's not long until we meet Count Dracula (Liz Kettle). Dressed in flowing robes, Dracula glides silently across the stage and up and down the stairs. The portrayal of the legendary character by Kettle is outstanding from beginning to end. She's regal, quietly menacing and captivating. The perfect Dracula.


The cast are all magnificent. Nothing at all is made of Dracula or any of the other traditionally male characters being played by a female or non-binary actor. They just are what they are - and that is brilliant.


Dracula Mina's Reckoning National Theatre of Scotland. Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic

The set is stunning and full of interest. Multiple levels and layers allow the cast to use every inch of the stage and keep the audience on their toes not knowing where someone (or something) will appear from next.


The lighting from Aideen Malone adds a suitably eerie feeling and cleverly transforms the set from the asylum to Dracula's castle, and to the rugged coast of Aberdeenshire. I particularly enjoyed the flickering candle light in Dracula's castle - brilliantly done. Video elements from Lewis den Hertog add drama and a little bit of gore when needed. It's all beautifully staged and expertly delivered.


This bold retelling of the Dracula legend is funny and fresh, but loses none of the intrigue or power of the original novel. Relocating it from Whitby to Aberdeenshire works brilliantly and it really does feel like Dracula has come home.


⭐⭐⭐⭐


Dracula: Mina's reckoning plays at The Theatre Royal, Glasgow until Saturday 16th September.

🎟️ Tickets available from £13 https://prf.hn/l/5NQ1JVw

Full listings below.


Dracula Mina's Reckoning National Theatre of Scotland. Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic

📸 Photo credit: Laurence Winram and Pete Dibdin

📸 Production photography: Mihaela Bodlovic


 

DRACULA: MINA’S RECKONING


Conceived by Morna Pearson and Sally Cookson

Written by Morna Pearson after Bram Stoker

Directed by Sally Cookson


Full cast: Natalie Arle-Toyne, Maggie Bain, Ailsa Davidson, Catriona Faint, Danielle Jam, Liz Kettle, Anne Lacey and Ros Watt.


Set and Costume Designer-Kenneth MacLeod, Composer-Benji Bower, Movement Director-Vicki Manderson, Lighting Designer-Aideen Malone, Video Designer-Lewis den Hertog, Casting Directors-Simone Pereira Hind CDG and Anna Dawson. BSL Performance interpreters Catherine King and Yvonne Strain.


Touring from September to October 2023 to

  • His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen (previews Sat 2, Tues 5, Wed 6 Sept) 7 – 9 Sept

  • Theatre Royal, Glasgow 13 – 16 Sept

  • Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling 21 – 23 Sept

  • Eden Court, Inverness 28 – 30 Sept

  • Dundee Rep 5 – 7 Oct

  • Festival Theatre, Edinburgh 11 – 14 Oct

  • Belgrade Theatre, Coventry 18 to 21 Oct

  • Liverpool Playhouse 24 to 28 Oct.

Dracula Mina's Reckoning National Theatre of Scotland. Photo: Laurence Winram
 

🌟 REVIEW: Dracula: Mina's Reckoning (NTS, National Theatre of Scotland) 🌟


🎟️ Disclosure: I was invited to review this show by the National Theatre of Scotland and received a complimentary ticket in exchange. Whether I am invited or not has absolutely no impact on my reviews or star ratings.


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📧 For media and review requests contact Lisa_InTheTheatre@outlook.com

💗 To see more pictures and videos follow @Lisa_InTheTheatre on Instagram


Lisa in the theatre. Theatre reviewer. Theatre blog. Glasgow Theatre. Edinburgh Theatre. Scotland theatre.

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