Screams of both terror and delight echoed through Lake Braddock Secondary School’s theater Saturday night as the students presented the epic tale of Dracula.
The seminal vampire story depicts the tragedy of Count Dracula and two women he infects with his thirst for blood. Steven Dietz’s adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic novel casts Renfield, Dracula’s minion of sorts, as the narrator as he watches Lucy Westenra transform from woman to something far more fearsome. Lucy’s suitor, a psychiatrist, Dr. John Seward calls upon Dr. Van Helsing to somehow cure Lucy of her peculiar ailment as her friend, Mina Murray works with Helsing to realize that Dracula has come to London to feast on new blood. In the end, it is up to Helsing, Mina, and her fiancé Johnathan Harker to slay the undead Transylvanian creature.
Every character in Lake Braddock’s production was an asset to the production as a whole. While in many high school performances, certain players outshine others, everyone from the banshee-esque brides of Dracula to the Count himself maintained the horrific story. Luke Esper’s passionate Seward and Jacob Gruber’s responsible Harker each possessed the qualities Stoker bestowed upon them in his novel to heighten the tragedy of their respective lovers’ transformations. These metamorphoses were beautifully executed by Ilana Naidamast as Lucy and Sarah Fick as Mina. The eloquence and power displayed by the two true vampires, Jimmy Day as Dracula and C.J. Tragakis as Renfield, foiled one another entirely. Day’s menacing yet alluring voice was in perfect contrast to Tragakis’ more humorous and playful tone.
The movement of all characters was poignant and stylized, but not to the point that it felt forced. Each moment looked as if it were an illustration because the position of the actors as well as their individual actions told the story in itself. Every argument was punctuated by the clear physical dominance of the more powerful character and each feminine possession of Dracula was frighteningly demonic. The actors would also enter the stage from the audience, adding a more personal connection to the monsters and their victims.
The piece felt surreal and terrifying beyond the effects of the acting. The effective lighting by Courtney Bradshaw added to the mystery of the events as did the magnificent sound design by Roya Sodeifi. At one point, Dracula’s voice was heard through the darkness like a paranormal hum, one that sent shivers down the spines of audience members. Numerous other effects were used such as mystifying fog, glowing red eyes, and inexplicable crashing of doors throughout the audience. Every addition furthered the air of mystery and fear.
In the words of Renfield, those of us lucky enough to have witnessed the supernatural wonder of Lake Braddock’s production, it “shall remain to us forever as far more than a memory.”
By Hannah Rak of G.C. Marshall through the high school Cappies program, the critics and awards program for high school theater. In this program, high school students are trained as critics, attend shows at other schools and write reviews for local newspapers. At the end of the year, student critics vote for awards that are presented at a formal Cappies Gala.