New play makes farce of tale

By Mia Proli Gable

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Bram Stoker's Dracula has long been a favorite tale of good vs. evil. Many will remember Francis Ford Coppola's film version that was released a few years ago. Mostly, it was touted as having excellent sets and costumes, but the acting left a lot to be desired. The same criticism can be said of the Arizona Theatre Company's version of Dracula, which opened this past weekend.

Playwright Steven Dietz's adaptation of Dracula transforms a tale that could be true into a tale that is regarded as completely made up. Reinfield (David Pichette), the bug-eating madman, opens the show by addressing the audience, explaining that he was created by Bram Stoker. This sets the play up as a farce, which it becomes. The audience laughed in places where they should have shrieked back in terror. Dietz's version lies somewhere between humor and horror, but it is unclear on which side it is truly meant to reside.

And the acting didn't make up for the failings of the boring script. It seemed as if the actors were more concerned with getting their accent right than whether their characters had any depth or apparent motivations.

For instance, Mina (Britt Sady), the endearing heroine, is supposed to be lured into Count Dracula's clutches in a scene that should be slightly erotic, but Sady's Mina seems to flip-flop; one moment she's screaming her head off to get away from him, and the next she drinking his blood like she just came out of the desert, stranded with no water.

And all the while, the set was fabulous. Paired with the already-Gothic Alice Holsclaw Theatre at the Temple of Music and Art, set designer Bill Forrester created a very dark and dreary place that added to the play's mood of mystery and terror. He also did a wonderful job of creating many different places, a bedroom, an insane asylum and a cemetery, in a small confined space.

It is unfortunate that this most recent adaptation of Dracula takes an old story and just retells it without giving any consideration to how many of the themes of darkness and mystery could apply to aspects of modern society. In this day and age, it would seem that the story could lend itself to some very interesting adaptations: how about Dracula as a personification of AIDS? With this version, however, one is left mildly entertained, but definitely unchallenged.

Dracula plays through April 14 at The Temple of Music and Art. For reservations or information call 884-8210.

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