Dracula – Blackwood Players

Dracula – Blackwood Players

Played out on the generous stage of the Blackwood Memorial Hall the Blackwood Players’ latest offering of “Dracula” is very good indeed. Director Damien White has assembled a most competent cast in order to reveal the manifestation of horror that begins to happen when the sun goes down. As set designer too, Damien has dressed his stage in order to capture an era of a century ago. Whilst Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula” was published in 1897 a stage script was first created in 1924. It was a time ripe for all things that might connect to a “spirit world”.

It is evident that each cast member relishes their individual contribution to this production. Eleanor Mae Lawson as Dr Seward is both a caring mother and a doctor charged with the care of patients not quite on an emotional equilibrium. Eleanor’s manner, supported by her good diction and projection, reinforces her characterisation.

The role of Lucy is not the easiest to slip into. She can easily be portrayed as an annoyingly weak character but Shannon Gray incorporates subtle strength into her interpretation that rises to the surface when she decides to fight the demon within her. Shannon’s Lucy fits the part well. Nicholas Champion as Jonathon Harker evokes our sympathy as Lucy’s long suffering and bemused fiancé. He displays both sound stage knowhow and natural timing in his role. Eryn Kralj is the maid. It’s not always easy taking on a minor role such as that of a servant but, given there is an extra bite to this one, Erin is elevates herself from mere subservience. I liked her a lot!

Jabez Retallick is an excellent Renfield. Jabez plays him with just the right amount of craziness and, as a result, his Renfield maintains his humanity until his untimely sacrifice. Noah Taverner is a most enthusiastic Attendant. Whilst his accent may wander over several English Counties his energy and attack on his role shine through. I do hope he continues to pursue many more roles in community theatre.

As Madame Szgany Rebecca Gardner really shines. She is elegant and sinister both in one. Her purringly seductive tones delivered with unwavering Transylvanian accent make for a most notable Dracula. Roxby Downs must surely regret its loss. A fine performance. I have similar remarks for Cherylene O’Brien’s interpretation of Van Helsing. Her stage guile and depth of experience are evident throughout. Both actors demonstrate great command of the stage and establish immediate communication links with their audience. Together they take acting honours in a very strong and even ensemble.

To conclude, the Blackwood Players have constructed a piece of theatre that will please any audience. Couple this with an atmosphere of friendly and welcoming hospitality, and a good night out awaits anyone wanting to experience entertaining community theatre. Bravo!

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This production was reviewed by:

Alan Shepley
Alan Shepley
Whilst at University and Adelaide Teachers College he performed with Adelaide Uni Footlights, Therry and Theatre Guild before being appointed to country teaching positions. Over 35 years he was involved with school and/or community theatre productions in all facets of getting a show on stage at Pt. Augusta, Kadina , Balaklava and Pt. Pirie.

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