Tag: Chris Grant

Bitten By Productions Presents DRACULA: THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER

Atmospheric and intriguing

By Rachel Holkner

Dracula is a character who requires no introduction, no commentary and, one might think, no new stories. Dracula: The Last Voyage of the Demeter proves otherwise. This new play by Sean Carney fills a tiny gap in the story we know so well, providing an explanation for what happened on the ship Demeter before its arrival at Whitby.

Dracula.jpg

Set entirely in the ship’s hold with the chained vampire holding court, various members of the crew and passengers descend the ladder out of necessity or curiosity. There Dracula does what psychopaths do best: charm them in to revealing more about themselves than they intended. Tension builds as the unseen crew of the ship, slowly at first, then with impossible rapidity, are murdered or vanish.

Carney’s writing is assured, but occasionally misses a step through basic anachronisms or overt exposition. There is no humour to this dark tale of human flaws, yet the dialogue is scattered with truly clever language and witty notes which effectively relieve the strained atmosphere.

Gregory Caine as Count Dracula pulls the story along beautifully, commanding the stage faultlessly. Unfortunately this only highlights the rather static performances of the other players who rarely change the pitch of their rather one-note characters. Mumbling Nichols (Matthew Elliot) was unfortunately incomprehensible at times, while Captain Atkins (Robin Darch) suffered a similarly wobbly accent.

As the characters descend in turn to bargain with the captive monster the play becomes repetitive, due in part to static stage direction. Ineffective use of the space grew tiring to watch. Surely the single chair could be moved to elsewhere on the stage to provide a little relief. I feel opportunities were also missed by director Ashley Tardy to utilise the terrific staircase into the performance space that the venue provides.

Celina Mack as young Elizabeth and Stephanie Daniel as her mother Jessica make an excellent partnership, effectively portraying that relationship. I would have liked to see Gabriel Bergmoser as Gibson and Chris Grant‘s Hopkins have an opportunity to play off each other a little more too as their characters were so at odds with each other.

Effective set dressing and costuming set an impressive claustrophobic atmosphere of a ship’s hold to the venue; audio effects and of course theatrical smoke to represent the fog set the audience well inside the story before the play even began.

Dracula: Last Voyage of the Demeter is the perfect piece to head to as a respite from the Comedy Festival.

Thursdays to Saturday from April 13-22

Club Voltaire, North Melbourne

https://www.trybooking.com/book/event?eid=265879

REVIEW: Bitten By Productions’ THE LUCAS CONUNDRUM

Moral issues churn against artistic integrity

By Margaret Weiringa

How can you argue against a dying child? In The Lucas Conundrum, playwright Gabriel Bergmoser has created a script that seeks to explore the complexities of this infamous issue: the protagonist Robert Stone is one of Hollywood’s most successful directors, an innovator whose fantasy films changed the way movies are made, and his soon-to-be-released film is his first return to his hugely successful franchise in over thirty years. Then an internet petition with millions of signatures begs him to let a dying child watch his film before the kid passes away, and Stone don’t want to – not until it is ready by his high standards.

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Unfortunately, this promising plot about the changing power of the auteur, the modern film industry and social influence is presented mostly as a series of cocaine-fueled arguments that gradually lost my attention. The arguments built, but somehow the tension onstage didn’t seem to. Perhaps it was that the stakes did not seem high enough – the set-up was that Stone would lose everything if he did not bow to the studio’s pressure. In this production, Greg Caine offered a solid presentation of Stone as a man who was arrogantly confident that his decisions were the right ones, but I didn’t feel that this interpretation fully supported this situation as something that would destroy his career and, therefore, his life.

Chris Grant played Freddie, the man who was trying to force Stone’s hand. His character started as a believable, albeit over-the-top Hollywood-type, but as the arguments intensified, he became more and more comical, even to the point of slapstick. Despite the description “funny, (and) incisive”, the play generally seemed to be going for a more realistic feel, which made his valiant performance feel rather out of genre.

The two women in the cast, Alicia Beckhurst as Stone’s girlfriend and Angelique Malcolm as his ex-wife, both gave good performances in their roles, but disappointingly neither character was given a lot for the actors to really bite into. The female roles were quite functional and stereotyped, although there was certainly the opportunity to create characters who are more than just the relationship that they have with a man.

Essentially, The Lucas Conundrum is a good, promising production that has just missed the chance to be great. I think that the work would have benefited from further script and character development to explore an interesting premise and a complex real-world situation: who owns the art?

Where: Club Voltaire, 14 Raglan St, North Melbourne
When: Feb 17 – February 27, Tues-Sat, 7pm
Tickets: Full $20 Conc $15 through www.trybooking.com