Synetic Theater DraculaBy Sara McMullin • Oct 25th, 2009 • Category: Reviews
Rosslyn Spectrum, rosslyn, VA
Through November 15th
Reviewed October 11th, 2009
Everyone knows the age old tale of Dracula. He is the original vampire, the mysterious, dangerous unstoppable force that feeds on the blood of the living. The Synetic Theatre does a unique interpretation of the story. The show consists of small bits of dialogue to move the story along and is then followed by long dance numbers most of which are either very action packed lively pieces with dramatic and spooky music, right out of a horror movie sound track, or very seductive dances mainly preformed by Dracula’s three wives, Stacey Jackson, Irina Koval, and Catalina Lavalle, who seduce their victims before feasting.
Dracula, played by Dan Istrate, creates a powerful and forceful character, with just a hint of humor. For the most part I will say that the characters themselves were not well developed, but what they lacked in back story and dialogue they made up for in their movement. Every character had a visual voice. Dracula had a way of gliding across the stage that made him seem as if he was lifted several inches off the ground whenever he moved, but at the same time had the power to lift his victim with one hand without even showing the slightest inkling of difficulty.
The actual story mainly revolves around the diary and various letters from the character Jonathan Harker, a salesmen sent by his company in London to Count Dracula’s home in Transylvania. Unfortunately I didn’t feel that there was enough of the story told about the relationship between Harker, played by Alex Mills, and Dracula. There is some telling of his diary entries as well as very slight dialogue between the Dracula and Harker, but not enough to truly feel invested in the outcome of the actual character and the sort of cat and mouse games that Dracula plays with Harkes’ mind during his stay, However the various dances interpreting Harkes’ nightmares, while he stays at the Count’s Castle will create a lasting impression.
The play was very imaginative, scary and beautiful all at the same time, with its use of human bodies to create swaying furniture, or moving caskets, all slowly driving Mr. Harker insane.
Dracula truly shows what he’s made of when he begins to hunt the friends and family of Mr. Harker, such as his fiance Mina, played by Natalie Berk, and her childhood friend, Lucy, played by Mary Werntz. Things become dangerous and people are dying. That’s when the friends of the young ladies call in Van Helsing, played by Roger Payano, for advice on how to stop the Vampire. There is only the slight information about Dracula gained by a hysteric patient who is being kept in an insane asylum and by one of the dear friends of Lucy, Dr. Seward, played by Ben Russo. The Hysteric, known as Renfield, played by Irakli Kavasadze, tries to warn them all about what is coming. Renfield’s character was one of the most developed and most interesting. He had a craving for blood but was not the undead, he wants to be evil, but has a change of heart when he meets the fair Mina, which ultimately leads to his betrayal of Dracula.
The final battle truly is the grand finale, filled with stage fighting, contortions, and the creation of a huge dark force taking over everything. It’s something you just can’t take your eyes off of, and then just like that, it’s over.
This show does a terrific job at being visually entertaining, but leaves much to be desired in the characters and overall plot. I would almost not even call it a play as much as a theatrical dance revue, very entertaining and beautiful and well as creepy and dark. The special effects and music (Konstantine Lortkipanidze), and costumes (Anastasia Ryurikov Simes) were amazing and the use of human props were very creative. If you enjoy a visually stunning show I highly recommend it.
Director’s Notes Dracula
We have been very excited by the opportunity to bring back Dracula in a new , updated form to join the other plays in our season. It comes as no surprise that we have dubbed this, our 8th season, the “Season of Dreams and Nightmares.”
I’ve always been fascinated by the power of dreams. I’ll even admit to having drawn on my own to help create shows before. The unconscious is a vast, powerful thing that, by nature, avoids our understanding in day-to-day life. When it is brought to life, amazing things happen. The problem that one day stymies our endeavors is slept on, and we awake to find the answer as clear as day. The actor who calms down and is freed of over-thought suddenly discovers the spine of their new character.
The unconscious can terrify as well, of course. Not only in our nightmares, but in our day-to-day life as well – too much stress, too many worries, and our unconscious seems to force our thoughts in negative directions, spiraling us into anger or depression. The power of dreams holds a quiet sway over our lives that still puzzles and fascinates the best and brightest of our scientists, leaders, and philosophers.
So it is within our plays. Dracula’s three wives represent both a Victorian male’s dream, and nightmare: the unbridled sexuality of the female. Their voluptuousness opposes the Victorian ideal so completely that it leaves the men of the story bewildered and fearful – seductive in the same way that their powerful, violent master is to everyone in the story. Dracula himself can be a perverted male ideal – the dream of the physically vulnerable, immortal, hyper-sexual man, though his own power and endlessness is in itself a nightmare for the count.
As we begin our season, I want to welcome to Synetic’s world of dreams and nightmares. We will continue our journey that weaves between the worlds of the ancient and the modern, between the visceral and the psychological. As always, my thanks to you, the audience, to our donors who made all of this possible, and to our actors, whose tireless efforts bring these dreams to life.
Best wishes, Paata Tsikurishvili
Photos by Graeme B. Shaw for the Synetic Theater
- Dracula: Dan Istrate
- Mina Harker: Natalie Berk
- Jonathan Harker: Alex Mills
- Lucy Westenra: Mary Werntz
- Dr. Seward: Ben Russo
- Arthur Holmwood: Philip Fletcher
- Quincey Morris, Demon: Ryan Sellers
- Dr. Van Helsing: Roger Payano
- Renfield: Irakli Kavsadze
- Wives of Dracula: Stacey Jackson, Irina Koval, Catalina Lavalle
- Captain of the Demeter: Vato Tsikurishvilli
- Villager: Chris Galindo
- Understudies: Karen Morales-Chacana, Sarah Olmsted Thomas, Matthew Ward
- Directed by: Paata Tsikurishvili
- Choreographed by: Irina Tsikurishvili
- Original music and Special Effects by: Konstantine Lortkipanidze
- Set, Costume, and properties designed by: Anastasia Ryurikov Simes
- Lighting designed by: Andrew F. Griffin
- Sound Designed by: Paata Tsikurishvili and Irakli Kavsadze
- Fight Choreographed by: Ben Cunis
- Assistant Director and Music Direction by: Irakli Kavsadze
- Assistant Lighting Designed by: Brahim Pettis
- Stage Management by: Megan Allen
Disclaimer: Synetic Theater provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review. Also, ShowBizRadio editor Michael Clark worked as a paid member of the load-in crew.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/4267.
Sara McMullin spent two years working in a coached ensemble called (luxurious tooth) in Chicago, and had the privilege of working with Jonathan Pitts founder of the Chicago Improv Festival. Since moving back to DC Sara has been involved in various local productions such as Hexagon's "Strike while the irony's hot" and "What so proudly we bailed" and is now Hexagon's Marketing VP. She also has performed at The Blair Mansion ("Politics is Murder," "The Day Disco Died" and "Murder is All in the Family." She is also is a comedy writer who has interned for "The Potomac Review," a literary magazine published by Montgomery College.