Victoria’s iconic Craigdarroch Castle has been home to many things over its 120-year existence, but none quite so eerie as Carfax Asylum — the setting for Dracula: The Blood is the Life, running until Oct. 31.
Adapted from Bram Stoker’s classic Gothic novel for the stage by Launch Pad’s David Radford and Christina Patterson, Dracula: The Blood is the Life tells the hair-raising tale of the world’s most famous vampire relocating from Transylvania to London, and the men and women who are determined to stop him from spreading his bloodlust around the world.
Before even entering the castle, bloodcurdling screams can be heard echoing from inside.
The audience gathers in the grand ground-floor lobby where the asylum’s Dr. Seward (Michael Shewchuk) gives brief safety instructions before briskly climbing 87 steps to the fourth-floor ballroom where professor Abraham Van Helsing (Paul Terry) is waiting.
At a whirlwind speed, the tale unfolds, introducing Dracula’s reluctant solicitor Jonathan Harker (Matthew Coulson), demented asylum patient Mr. Renfield (Trevor Hinton), the tenacious Mina Murray (Christina Patterson, pictured right) and the count himself (played with a sinister mischievousness by David Radford, pictured right).
The show moves up and down stairs and in and out of various rooms of the castle, giving a sense of excitement and uncertainty.
Victoria’s skyline, lighting up the stained-glass windows with a sinister glow, passes perfectly for 19th century London, while the impressive wood-paneled walls and elaborate period decor create the perfect set for this devastatingly romantic tale.
Even the temperature of each room was perfect — with a drafty former classroom passing perfectly for a temporary morgue, complete with a very realistic staking.
The acting and the setting in this production are fantastic — it’s an all-star cast performing in one of the most stately, opulent buildings in town — but there was one thing missing from this production — blood.
Perhaps it’s the time of year, or my own bloodlust, but with a title like Dracula: The Blood is the Life, I expected to see at least a little blood spilled. It’s understandable, however, that the Craigdarroch Castle Historical Museum Society (the building’s owners) didn’t want to risk damage to this historic space.
Dracula: The Blood is the Life is full of life, regardless of the lack of blood. M
Tickets are available online at thecastle.ca and 250-592-5323. Reservations are required. This venue is not wheelchair accessible.
Dracula: The Blood is the Life
Craigdarroch Castle (1050 Joan)
Oct. 17 &18, 24 at 8pm
Oct. 19 & 20 at 7pm and 9pm
Until Oct. 31