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HomeOperaRorschach Theatre places feminist enamel into ‘Dracula’ and it’s bloody good

Rorschach Theatre places feminist enamel into ‘Dracula’ and it’s bloody good


Belief Rorschach Theatre to immerse us in an unreal world. Inevitably they go all in; it’s their fantastical forte. And this time, with Kate Hammill’s feminist adaptation of Dracula in hand, Rorschach has conjured a wondrous world that turns into earlier than our eyes a window into the actual one.

Bri Houtman as Lucy and Ben Topa as Dracula in ‘Dracula.’ Picture by Ryan Maxwell Images.

The play’s unsubtle subtitle is A Feminist Revenge Fantasy, and the script bears an epigraph by the British poet Elisabeth Hewer:

God ought to have made ladies deadly when he made monsters of males.

That blunt line might or will not be to your style, however it factors to the theme of a riveting manufacturing that gives you chills—as a result of much more than a feminist revenge fantasy, this rendition of Dracula stabs on the coronary heart of male authority in girls’s lives.

Jessica Ludd as Mina and Marissa Liotta as Drusilla in ‘Dracula.’ Picture by Ryan Maxwell Images.

The positioning of the efficiency is a disused firehouse, a station that after parked firetrucks and now homes a fireplace starter of a present. The set designed by Sarah Markley is an eerie assemblage of dust-cover-draped furnishings, empty frames held on partitions amongst Victorian sconces, and gauzy scrims suspended in portals to a mysterious upstage otherworld. Because the play shifts locales from London to Transylvania to a graveyard to an insane asylum and elsewhere, this multipurpose set along with spectral lighting by James Morrison and creepy sound by Kenny Neal propels the telling of the story like a quickening coronary heart. Neal’s dissonant inter-scene piano rating would alone accompany any variety of nightmares.

We hear first from Renfield, a madwoman locked in a London asylum (performed with canny abandon by Christina Day). She prays to a father god as grasp whilst she astutely warns the younger, pregnant Mina (a winningly earnest Jessica Ludd) to not belief any males together with her husband:

RENFIELD:
So long as they’ve energy over us
They shall at all times abuse it!

They make all the principles—
They usually don’t allow you to break them
They usually attempt to break you when you attempt!
When you belong to him—
He might eliminate you ways he’ll
And you might scream and scream
And by no means be heard!

Mina lives in London along with her husband, Jonathan (an impressively versatile Conor Patrick Donahue), who goes from staid solicitor to frantic vampire sufferer after which perhaps again to regular. Renfield’s Cassandra-like phrases of warning will resonate all through the play:

RENFIELD:
How are you going to really inform—a superb being from a foul?
How have you learnt if you’re cherished or liked
—Or solely tricked?

The titular vampire (performed with charming urbanity, then vicious fury by Ben Topa) has summoned Jonathan to Transylvania to rearrange a property buy in London. In Dracula’s lair are two animal-like creatures, the family assist: Drusilla (a brain-blank Marissa Liotta) and Marilla (a really ghoulish Jolene Mafnas). The lurid goings-on there are spookily rendered in shadow and sound.

Jolene Mafnas as Marilla, Conor Patrick Donahue as Jonathan, and Marissa Liotta as Drusilla in ‘Dracula.’ Picture by Ryan Maxwell Images.

Again in London, we meet a betrothed couple, Lucy (a splendidly guileless Bri Houtman) and Seward (Erik Harrison as a martinet beneath wraps). When Lucy falls significantly sick (as a consequence of Dracula), Seward summons Physician Van Helsing for assist. Van Helsing seems to be a she, a cowboy-hatted vampire slayer, and in Phoenix Cross’s star-turn channeling of Flo Kennedy an actual badass. The professional rivalry between Seward and Van Helsing is a spectator sport in itself.

Hamill has embedded a number of heady arguments in her retelling: Whether or not or not there are good males, whether or not vampirism (right here a placeholder for poisonous masculinity) is parasitical or the paramount of human evolution (i.e., can a person be cured or is it in his nature?), and whether or not girls can fend for themselves in opposition to males bitten by energy.

Christina Day as Renfield; Phoenix Cross as Van Helsing; Bri Houtman as Lucy & Erik Harrison as Seward in ‘Dracula.’ Pictures by Ryan Maxwell Images.

Early on there’s a scene of sisterhood between Lucy, who continues to be single, and Mina, who’s married. Their dialog underscores the play’s central interrogation: how can one make sure a good-seeming man is admittedly good?

LUCY:
A person could also be beautiful throughout courtship, when they’re attempting to win you, after which flip. It occurs—on a regular basis.

MINA:
Jonathan didn’t.

LUCY:
You will have been lucky, however I can not assist however be cautious! …
with out a husband, I’ve no standing, no prospects… However our complete destinies are wrapped up in males; as soon as we’re wed we’re—little higher than their chattel, in keeping with the regulation, and I simply—want I may very well be completely positive of his character.

The plot, as is typical of supernatural tales, can get a bit labyrinthine—and this one features a jaw-dropping chase-and-fight scene (skillfully choreographed by Casey Kaleba) that’s head-scratchingly complicated. However what retains the present’s ahead momentum feeling forceful and completely absorbing is the emotional authenticity in every of the performances and the stunningly dextrous route of Rebecca Rovezzi. Her brisk pacing and imaginative use of that already-strange area—in service of a script studded with high-stakes sexual politics—make for an exciting expertise in theatergoing.

Dracula, a Feminist Revenge Fantasy, Actually performs by November 6, 2022, offered by Rorschach Theatre acting at The Firehouse on the Parks at Walter Reed, positioned within the Parks at Historic Walter Reed in “Constructing 90” throughout the road from the Arts Park at 6810 Cameron Drive NW,  Washington, DC). Buy tickets on-line ($45 basic admission, $30 for seniors and college students, and a restricted variety of $10 tickets can be found for each present).

This system for Dracula, a Feminist Revenge Fantasy, Actually is on-line right here.

COVID Security: Masks are required to be worn by viewers members.

Dracula, a Feminist Revenge Fantasy
By Kate Hamill, primarily based loosely on the novel by Bram Stoker
Directed by Rebecca Rovezzi

Forged:
Van Helsing: Phoenix Cross
Renfield: Christina Day
Jonathan Harker: Conor Patrick Donahue
Seward: Erik Harrison
Lucy Westenra: Bri Houtman
Drusilla/Miller/Service provider: Marissa Liotta
Mina Harker: Jessica Ludd
Marilla/Maid: Jolene Mafnas
Dracula: Ben Topa
Understudies: Maryanne Henderson, Dannielle Hutchinson, Andrew Quilpa, Kaeli Patchen, & Daniel Riker

Artistic and Manufacturing:
Set Design: Sarah Markley
Costume Design: Sydney Moore
Battle Choreography: Casey Kaleba
Intimacy Choreography: Megan Behm
Sound Design: Kenny Neal
Lighting Design: James Morrison
Props Design: Mercedes Blankenship
Vocal Coach: Jen Rabbitt Ring
Stage Administration: Caraline Jeffrey (Season Stage Supervisor), Jen Katz (Assistant Stage Supervisor)
Manufacturing Supervisor and Technical Director: Adam B. Ferguson
Assistant Costume Design: Ashlynn Ludwig
Assistant Lighting Design and Grasp Electrician: Dean Leong
Extra Set Building and Electrics: Sean Flaherty, Sydney Bronaugh
Field Workplace Supervisor: Michael Kyrioglu
Home Supervisor: Kelsey Jenkins
Produced by Randy Baker and Jenny McConnell Frederick

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