Dark Gothic tale becomes haunting dance production
Renowned choreographer Mark Bruce has taken Bram Stoker's dark Gothic tale of the vampire Count Dracula as the basis for his new work.
The Mark Bruce Company's 10 dancers will bring the haunting, erotic tale to life in a heart wrenching and magical dance theatre production.
Jonathan Goddard plays the infamous Dracula, whose sinister and ruthless ambitions challenge the very fabric of Victorian society. As his victims and opponents rally against him they must face the darkness and savagery within themselves.
Mark Bruce says he first read Dracula around the age of nine or 10 and again in his teens. He returned to it properly in the last couple of years.
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"There is something that makes me never tire of it," he says. "It is a great story but it also has an elusive magic. I think Dracula opens our imagination and dreams.
"It is a subtle tale and therefore almost believable – especially as it is written in journal form. I also find every time I go back to it there are things I haven't seen before.
"It is a product of its time – interested in what was prevalent in Victorian society – the emergence and interest in science, the effect of this on religion. An interest in foreign travel. People's fears, taboos. The perception and place of women.
"It is also a subtly erotic novel, though it is impossible to know how much irony was intended by Stoker in all its sexual connotations. But underneath it all I think it is a story with a human heart."
It is, of course, a story that has been re-told in many different forms, some of which have played a part in Mark's preparation for Dracula.
"I love the early Hammer versions and Christopher Lee is great," he says. "It is hard to exorcise the image of him as Dracula when trying to picture the character. But I wouldn't say I am referencing any particular film. Interestingly I think an old Tom Baker Doctor Who – The Talons of Weng Chiang has had a strong influence, particularly its use of light – or rather absence of – with areas disappearing into darkness.
"I've been thinking of a dance version for many years, but I'd also love to do a straight film version as well – I don't know why the BBC hasn't done one for over 30 years. But there were several things that pushed me to finally get it together."
Music is as diverse as Bach, Mozart, Fred Frith and Eastern European folk music, alongside Mark's own compositions. He says he hopes Dracula will have something for everyone.
"Dracula is often just a presence alluded to – perhaps only a darker side to ourselves. I think people will always fantasise about vampires and the sexual nature of what they do."
Dracula is at Exeter Northcott on Tuesday and Wednesday.