The current production of Dracula at the Campus Theatre features some stellar acting performances, but sound problems tended to mar what was otherwise an enticing play.
Throughout the show, dirge-like sounds get played over the speakers, which is designed to give the production a sense of eeriness. As the music builded during key moments, though, it had the inclination to drown out the actors' dialogue. This occurred a few times during the play, and although the audience had to resort to lipreading for just a couple of seconds each incident, it was noticeable.
Another audio problem-at least at the performance the Hornet attended-occurred when a tape recording of some segue dialogue malfunctioned, causing it to fade in and out.
Technical glitches aside, the play includes some outstanding performances by the likes of Randy Stripling as Prof. Van Helsing, and Irma Lozano as Lucy.
Stripling, a veteran of the spring production of Tracers, shows how diverse he can be, going from the hard-edged drill instructor in that play to the mild-mannered Van Helsing. His character is central to the performance, keeping a rational head on things as he, Seward (Marvin Torrez), and Harker (Lloyd Thompson) plot to kill Dracula (Christopher Laurence).
Lozano is to be commended for her work as Lucy. She transforms from a naive bride-to-be in the first act to a figure that is slowly being enveloped by Dracula's spell in the third.
She begins to take on aspects of Dracula's personality, such as after the lunatic Renfield (Andrew Lowery) attempts to strangle her. Lucy is merely amused at the incident, prefering to simply laugh in the face of death.
Laurence makes the Dracula character come alive, so to speak, with his slightly paled face and his slicked, black, death-rocker hair. The capper is the Bulgarian-Romanian accent he injects into the dialogue, which adds a sense of mystery and seductiveness to the role. It's hard to take your eyes off Laurence. He dominates every scene he's in.
Even the other characters are enraptured by his very presence. When Dracula makes a bold statement such as "I am the last of my race," no one on stage thinks twice about it.
Lowery also shines in his portrayal of the crazed Renfield, with his rambling, demented speech and wild expressions.
Something, however, should be done set-design wise about the climactic final scene. Set in a catacomb, there are many pillars which block out the view of audience members nearest the stage on the left side. As Dracula gets put to the stake, the theatergoers in that area had to crane their necks to see what was going on, and some weren't able to get a glimpse of him at all.
Still, the play is extremely worthwhile, and the cast should be scaring up a storm until it closes on Sunday the 29th.