Entering the Old Joint Stock Theater to see Dracula’s Ghost and I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I’m happy to say I left with an experience I won’t be forgetting any time soon.
Johnathan Goodwin of the “Don’t Go into the Cellar” Theater Company wrote and admirably co-performed the original play with fellow actor Andrea Stephenson.
The theater itself was very small. There were only two rows of audience seats, with the front row being only about three feet away from the nearest props. You were at a seriously intimate proximity to the action as there was no separate level for the stage. The set was covered in memorabilia of Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula, along with many other creepy items in what appeared to be a sitting room. There were play posters, statues of Vlad the Imapler; the original Dracula legend, old maps, books, and even a vampire’s skull. The dark and authentic set transported you back in time to the first half of the 20th century where the play begins.
Dracula’s Ghost allows Count Dracula to tell his own story throughout history in a series of flashbacks. The play opens with Florence Stoker – the widow of Bram who wrote Dracula, coming from behind a screen divider and into the sitting room. She looks at herself in the mirror when a man who she knows as Mr. Leech comes up behind her. Florence is scared by him because she does not see him in the mirror. It becomes obvious that Mr. Leech is in fact count Dracula and he never died like everyone thought he had. Dracula had been close with Bram and now looks after Florence under the alias of Mr. Leech.
Throughout the play, flashbacks occur to tell the “true” story of Dracula; who turns out was not as bad as everyone thought. During one flashback, it is revealed that he had put a stop to the murders caused by Jack the Ripper (who was actually another vampire), and he even mentions lending a hand to stop the Nazis. Further historical connections are made when we see that one of the aliases Dracula had taken up was Dorian Gray, and that is the character Oscar Wilde based his classic novel on. The fusing of historical facts with fiction is intricately thought out and extremely amusing in many cases.
As I have said before (but I feel it needs emphasising) Goodwin and Stephenson performed the whole play just the two of them, a clear credit to their talent. Goodwin did the perfect Dracula, often playing on the Transylvanian accent. Stephenson was incredible at slipping from role to role; Dracula remains Dracula throughout the whole play, so it’s Stephenson who must transform roles. The amount of eye contact held with the audience is also a testament to their talent and a little unnerving for an audience member!
Overall, Dracula’s Ghost was an incredible experience. The set was perfect, the actors did an amazing job, and Goodwin did an incredible job researching and writing this extremely intelligent play. The “Don’t Go into the Cellar” theater company puts on a memorable and talented show.