Dracula has always been one of my favorite supernatural monsters. Whether it was the image that Bram Stoker conjured up in his famed novel, “Dracula” or one of the many upon many adaptations of the vampire through films, television shows, and books. Though the presence of TWILIGHT threw me off my love for the blood thirsty creatures for a bit, I’ve begun to slowly creep back. Which is why I was looking forward to see a re-telling of Stoker’s “Dracula” in Cadame Company’s THE RISE AND FALL OF DRACULA for the Hollywood Fringe Festival.
THE RISE AND FALL OF DRACULA caught my attention early on as our main character, Dracula, is played by a woman. Having always seen Dracula as a male, I liked that the creators of this show were willing to go forth with a female lead. The story itself focuses on the overall tale of Dracula, starting from her roots during Ancient times, up to her transformation into the beast, the relationships she forms (which are familiar if you know anything about the Dracula lore), and her eventual destruction. The story is told not just through a narrative but also through contemporary dance and original music which helped to heighten the senses and add a unique layer to the overall experience.
For me, there were aspects of this show that I really loved and aspects that I felt kind of floundered. As for the acting, Cassandre Ambe, who not only plays the title role of Dracula, but is also the creator and choreographer, stole the show. She was an absolute powerhouse that evoked the persona of Dracula wonderfully and danced with ferocity and passion. Tamara Burgess, who played Mina, was also noteworthy as she had no problem kicking ass and taking names in her quest to destroy Dracula. With that said, there were a few missteps in the acting of some of the other performers, but overall, everyone was doing there best to bring their A-game.
Something that took me awhile to get used to was the interpretive dance seen throughout most of the performance. I’m not typically a fan of this, however, I did find some of it to be incredibly moving during certain scenes that took place. There is a beauty to it that requires a lot of focus and in the end it made me want to have a better understanding of this art form. As I was there for preview week, I did notice that there needed to be some fine tuning with the choreography and dance numbers, but I’m sure, now being a few weeks in, it has been tightened up with a more seamless routine.
Overall, I think this show has a lot of promise. Regardless of the few bumpy starts I saw, it was evident that everyone involved had put so much blood, sweat, and tears into the productions. I enjoyed a new re-telling of the classic novel, and I loved seeing Dracula as a fierce woman who stood her ground while also exuding sensuality and confidence. Throughout the show there were a few breaks of humor, most notably by Gerard Alvarez, who played Dr. John Seward, and I came to thoroughly enjoy those moments and his performance.
All in all, I liked the unique take this show has to offer. I loved the immersive atmosphere, especially as the audience was brought into different rooms for different scenes to unfold. It was almost as if we, the audience, were a background character to the play. It made for a much more enjoyable experience unlike having to just sit and watch a play unfold in a stationary space. There is only one more show left that isn’t sold out, which is on June 24th, so if you are a fan of Dracula, performance art, immersion, and contemporary dance, then make sure you get a ticket before they sell out!
For more information on THE RISE AND FALL OF DRACULA visit http://cadamecompany.com/. For tickets at Hollywood Fringe, visit http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/4437?tab=tickets