Walking into the Bingham Theatre at Actors Theatre, an audience member was overheard saying he wanted to see "lots of blood and guts and someone getting strangled." Hopefully, he stayed around for the second act, where all three were present in an otherwise uneven Fifth Third Bank's Dracula.
Dracula features a vampire out to feast on the living, especially younger girls like Mina and Lucy. In the opening scene, the audience is intrigued when Dracula chases, dances, and then feasts on his first victim. The sounds and special lights are a precursor of what effects are to come.
Most of the first act deals with dialogue and very little action. The lines were well delivered but not necessarily well acted. Cast members were stiff in appearance and lacking a range of expression in their voices.
The lone exception was Redfield, an intelligent man but a lunatic who keeps escaping from the asylum and has a penchant for "feeding off living things". Marc Bovino was humorous as Redfield, portraying Redfield with energy, jumping on desks, walls, changing emotions within a split second, and, of course, acting like a lunatic in the process. Bovino took command of the stage in every scene (and received a well-deserved standing ovation at the end.).
The second act, meanwhile, more than made up for the slow first. This is where most the special effects, the blood, and random surprises take place. Go see the show to see all of them. Most are different from last year and are shocking and add, not distract, from the overall production.
The acting also was much better, particularly in the fight scenes. Those scenes were well-choreographed and obviously well-rehearsed. The expressions became larger, the sense of urgency increased, and all was felt by the audience, which reacted with legitimate screams, screams of delight, and laughter.
The audience left Dracula feeling very good about this year's production of Dracula, which features a slow first act but an awesome second act. More information on Fifth Third Bank's Dracula can be found at the Actors Theatre website.
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(Image from Actors Theatre)