If Carry On Screaming and The Rocky Horror Picture Show had a bit of a fumble outside the goth disco, the end result might be this splendidly over-the-top and self-knowingly camp steampunk rock musical version of Dracula.
A libertine rather than liberal interpretation of Bram Stoker’s classic, Action To The Word’s youthful cast enter into the spirit of things with ravishing gusto, prowling and prancing around the stage as they perform live musical accompaniment to the action unfolding on the sparse, industrial stage.
The steampunk theme is applied through little more than a smattering of cogs and goggles, with the focus instead being on the piece’s dark passions and blood-soaked sexual tension. Dracula himself is a lithesome predator, barely able to control his simmering bloodlust at all the nubile young flesh on display. Rachel Bright’s Lucy exudes equal amounts of predatory power, bewitching everyone she encounters with a self-aware sexuality. As a whole, the ensemble spend most of the piece barely able to keep their hands off each other.
Music is used to good effect, sometimes in spite of the songs chosen to reflect the action. Thus Mina Murray serenades a brilliantly deranged Renfield to the strains of Radiohead’s Creep, whilst Johnathan Harker’s abuse by the vampires of Castle Dracul is played out to the high-octane pump of Britney Spear’s Toxic. Performed with passion rather than panache, Action To The Word somehow manage to pull this off, thanks mostly to their irrepressible energy and the piece’s fast-paced direction.
Action seldoms drags throughout Dracula’s 75 minute running length, and stays faithful – plotwise at least – to Stoker’s original. Ultimately, the piece is a hugely enjoyable and accomplished spectacle, which is likely to leave audiences breathless from its performers’ alluring talents and seemingly immortal energy.
Action To The Word’s Dracula is at The Pleasance until 25 Aug (not 11) at 21:20