COUNTESS DRACULA - A Highly Recommended Gothic Horror immersive experience at Otherworld Theatre
Perhaps Am’ber D. Montgomery and Nick Izzo have decided that one thing Bram Stoker’s Dracula desperately needs is a social conscience -- or perhaps they think it was there the whole time, waiting to be brought to the surface. Whatever the case, you too might be surprised and delighted to see the widely celebrated story’s themes regarding power, lust and corruption be turned in such a way that they can express ideas about gentrification, gender inequality and institutional racism.
Otherworld Theatre gives us an American Gothic Horror
A number of details have been reworked in this adaptation of the classic tale, including the locations and temporal setting. The story begins in New Orleans, so the familiar elements of the original setting are given altered context. Mist hangs in the air diffusing purple light coming from above, giving the room an eerie glow. The action happens on a strip of floor - dressed to look like cobblestone - which separates the audience in the very small, intimate room. Performers cackle, cry and scream as they disappear into the dark spaces beside and behind the audience.
“We Need a Protector”
The desires of this vampire Countess make for an especially complex character. At once she embodies lustful avarice and gallant kindness. Robin Minkens (Countess Dracula) walks that tightrope with ferocity, and confidence delivering massive helpings of monologue with such adroitness and poise, you too might become entranced. Most of the cast play several roles (something this reviewer suspects is a custom at Otherworld Theatre) and so just as Minkens and Jesimiel Jaddua (Jonathan Harker) breathe earnest life into their single characters, Destiny Strothers (Lucy/Old Woman/Luella) embodies a dynamic range of perspectives while Sam Long (Quincy/Cop/Captain) offers up a nuanced character study on cavalier bravado. Suffice it to say, this reviewer was deeply impressed by the versatility of this ensemble.
Don’t Forget your Poncho!
Countess Dracula is a bloody affair to be sure and this immersive theatre experience puts you just close enough to the action that you might just catch a drop or two. This reviewer can confirm that the substance they used can be rinsed out of light colors (even white!) with ease, but if you’re sensitive to such things, you would do well to accept the Poncho offered to you at the box office. Meanwhile, the fact that several actors play more than one role leads to most characters being partly splattered in blood through much of the show, further enhancing the macabre aura.
The Countess Awaits
In the lobby before the show began, two audience members who arrived in full costume mentioned they were very big fans of vampire fiction. You might agree that this is higher praise than any review could hope to give. Those who have an aversion to the macabre and/or sensitivities about getting a little messy may want to proceed with caution but this show is Highly Recommended for fans of horror that has something to say and people looking for some old-fashioned, spooky entertainment!
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.
Danyelle Monson (Adeline/Old Woman/Maid)
Jesimiel Jaddua (Jonathan Harker)
Robin Minkens (Countess Dracula)
Destiny Strothers (Lucy/Old Woman/Luella)
LaRose Washington (Mina/Old Woman/Hannah)
Mike Danovich (Van Helsing/Arthur Holmwood/First Mate)
Sam Long (Quincy/Cop/Captain)
Am’ber D. Montgomery (Playwright/Director)
Nick Izzo (Playwright)
Paloma Locsin (Set Designer)
Jennifer Mohr (Costume Designer)
Sim Carpenter (Lighting Designer)
Devonte Washington (Sound Designer)
Almanya Narula (Fight Choreographer)
Lana Whittington (Intimacy Designer and Fight Consultant)
Taran Snodgress (Stage Manager)
Thru November 2nd
Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30pm.
Sundays at 2:30pm
3914 N. Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60613
About the Author:
Spence Warren is a Filmmaker, a Film Worker, A Musician, A Puppet Maker and - apparently - an occasional reviewer. He hopes to offer people - particularly those who love story in all its forms - valuable insight and perspective.