Capital Fringe 2014 Review: ‘Dracula. A Love Story’

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(The Best of the Capital Fringe) 

When Lee Ordeman stalks his female prey as the title character in Dracula. A Love Story, he might just conjure more imagery of the American Psycho than Stoker’s gothic predator. Such is the tone of Tim Treanor’s alternately poetic and pulp fiction modernization of the king of all vampire tales.

Lee Ordeman as Dracula and Carolyn Kashner as Lucy (Photo: Teresa Wood).

Lee Ordeman as Dracula and Carolyn Kashner as Lucy (Photo: Teresa Wood).

The horror that underlies this particular retelling is the terror of losing your life partner to serious illness. Do we fully appreciate the vow “in sickness and in health?” What happens if your spouse can no longer walk, no longer engage in sexual relations, no longer converse? There are other ideas in Treanor’s play, but this one resonated the loudest with me.

Treanor’s Dracula enjoys an auspicious debut under the sure direction of Jay Hardee and Chris Henley. They have assembled an excellent cast led by the charismatic Ordeman, whose dance background serves him well as he oozes animalistic sensuality.  Playing the Van Helsing-like “Eva Calderon,” Lynn Sharp Spears‘ eyes are spellbinding as she draws you into her tale of a youthful encounter with a vampire. Josh Speerstra brings humorous levity to the drama as the neurotic butler “Redland,” as does Joe Brack as Lucy’s down-to-Earth beau “Jack Klaxon.”

A somber, pensive tone prevails in the first half of the play, carried by Treanor’s beautifully poetic language and imagery, whereas a fast-paced, almost campy aesthetic takes over in the second half. It’s not that this doesn’t work, but the audience doesn’t know if it’s OK to laugh, for instance, when Lucy enters munching on a dog leg (Lucy is played by Carolyn Kashner, whose performance begins to take flight with her vampiric transformation). Future revisions of the script might do well to integrate more pulp fiction elements into the opening scenes to ease the transition to Dracula’s mad climax.

As it stands, however, Dracula A Love Story is one of the most oddly faithful retellings of Stoker’s novel that I have experienced, and I recommend it. Mr. Treanor is an accomplished novelist and DC theatre critic, and it is a pleasure to welcome him to this side of the lights!

Running Time: 75 minutes.

Dracula. A Love Story plays at Mountain – Mount Vernon United Methodist Church-900 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, in Washington, DC. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to their Capital Fringe page.

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