Dracula: The Bloody Truth review – defanged comedy stretches the joke too far

Dracula: The Bloody Truth review – defanged comedy stretches the joke too far

Octagon, Bolton
Bram Stoker’s novel gets redone in the style of The Play That Goes Wrong, in an energetically performed but ultimately feeble farce

We have a cost of living crisis and a boring election and a summer that keeps stalling and, for all I know, maybe audiences have an appetite for a comedy take on Dracula – a novel famed for not being in the least bit funny. It would be hard to begrudge them such innocent pleasure – especially when it’s performed with the elan of this Octagon/Stephen Joseph theatre co-production. But, really, it is feeble stuff.

Written by John Nicholson and the theatre company Le Navet Bete (aka Al Dunn, Nick Bunt and Matt Freeman), the Bram Stoker reworking follows in the tradition of the Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society, National Theatre of Brent and, latterly, The Play That Goes Wrong. The joke is that Professor Van Helsing (Chris Hannon) wants to tell the true story of the Transylvanian count, not the version pedalled by Stoker – “you are here to be educated not entertained” – and has recruited three hapless actors to play it out with the minimum of artifice.

Continue reading…