Belfast Telegraph

Dracula and Jonathan Harker: Plenty of bite, but a little confusing

By Andrew Johnston

Count Dracula is second only to Sherlock Holmes in the number of adaptations featuring the character.

Bram Stoker's classic horror yarn has been made into more plays, movies and television shows than you can shake a garland of garlic at.

Very few of them – not even director Francis Ford Coppola's supposedly definitive 1992 epic Bram Stoker's Dracula – have been particularly faithful to the original text.

With the imminent big-screen 'reboot' Dracula Untold – shot largely in Northern Ireland – set to present the count as a chiselled, angst-ridden antihero for the Twilight generation, Newtownabbey's Theatre at the Mill has gone back to basics with its production.

Despite the title suggesting an alternative take on the story, Jonathan Harker and Dracula is essentially a word-for-word staging of Stoker's vampire tale.

The play sees local actor Gerard McCarthy command the stage as not just the titular doomed estate agent and his undead host, but also every other character in the book.

And I mean every character.

Jonathan Harker and Dracula even features the rarely included minor figures of Quincey Morris and Arthur Holmwood, which should let aficionados know this is a serious proposition.

Last night's show came a week into the run, meaning McCarthy has had time to bed into the various roles. He spent much of the first half as Harker, whose diaries narrate his encounter with the Transylvanian bloodsucker.

Meanwhile, a clasp of the hands and a lowering of the head signified an appearance by Dracula himself.

Indeed, the Northern Ireland-born actor, perhaps best known for Hollyoaks, switched character and accent so often, he accidentally slipped into his native brogue on occasion. With just one man on stage – and no costume changes, or much in the way of a set – Jonathan Harker and Dracula may be confusing, not to say tiring, for the less familiarised members of the audience.

Three Stars

Belfast Telegraph

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