Dracula. One Bloody Fang After Another. Hambledon Productions, Cleethorpes Library 9 October 2019
This review was previously published by The Peoples Magazine in NE Lincolnshire
Carpathian Horror Comes To Cleethorpes
Wednesday 9th October 2019
Reviewed by Andy Evans
This week saw the premiere of a new play from the twisted mind of John Hewer and Hambledon Productions. Dracula: One Bloody Fang After Another saw a full house at Cleethorpes Library rolling with laughter at the comedy stylings of Hewer in this one man show.
A simple set provided all the necessary atmosphere needed for a dramatic rendition of the traditional tale; candles in ornate holders, musty tomes resplendent across fascinatingly sculpted tables, a screen for modesty and a black backcloth divided by a blood-red sash. There was a gun, a crossbow, a crucifix and of course garlic. A lot of garlic.
As Hewer took to the stage, he was greeted warmly by his audience. They clearly knew his work and knew exactly what level of silliness to expect. His opening monologue set the scene as Professor Van Helsing began the tale of horror. We were introduced to a host of characters all given vastly different voices, personalities and characteristics to allow the audience to follow the action, without a pause, as he deftly switched from one role to another and back again.
Then there were the gags. The very silly gags. Some we could see coming from the other side of the mountains, others were to sneak in under the radar and strike the funny bone. John Hewer is an up and coming master of silliness and the audience love him for it. He may have a little way to go to rival the intensity of punning from the likes of Tim Vine, but nevertheless, as a much younger actor, he knows how to play to his audience and his wit and charm win over even the most cynical audience member.
His comedic stylings were honed to perfection by Bruce Knight as director. Each character’s physicality was clearly defined, and the action flowed like a Universal movie of the 1930s. We were even treated to one of Hewer’s greatest hits as Tommy Cooper made an unexpected but warmly welcome appearance at one point. A hark back to Hewer’s previous show, Just Like That – A tribute to Tommy Cooper.
Watching Hewer skip from role to role with ease was a delight, his portrayal of the morally upright Jonathan Harker and of the slightly less moral Lucy Westenra were wonderful caricatures. His exchange between Jonathan Harker and his coach driver, Watson Howling, was a joy to behold. All enjoyed his salty seadog of a ship’s captain, bringing Dracula and his cargo of Carpathian soil to Whitby, prior to the inevitable shipwreck. The effect of the introduction of a ship’s wheel to the stage, saw it transformed. You could believe you were aboard The Demeter.
No review would be complete however, without mention of the incredibly effective sound design by Christopher Peters. The music was eerie and appropriate, as it marked the end of set pieces and led into each new scene, but it was the subtlety of its constant presence, as convincing sound effects played, and Hewer performed with them to great effect.
Although, perhaps a tad long in a small and very hot room, the play proved a delight for its audience and as this was only its first performance on a 17-date tour, the play will only get slicker, funnier and perhaps even crazier. Details can be found at their website www.hambledonproductions.com.