Nelle Lee, the co-adaptor and love interest of Dracula

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Nelle Lee, the co-adaptor and love interest of Dracula

After first been published in 1890, Bram Stoker’s Dracula has maintained significance for over a century to become one of gothic horrors most revelled pieces of literature ever. Now the harrowing yet beautiful tale has been re-imagined by Queensland’s shake & stir theatre company and has been horrifying audiences Australia-wide for the past five weeks since its premiere.

According to Nelle Lee, one of the shows co-adaptors who also portrays Dracula’s love interest Mina, there was some initial difficulty adapting the novel whilst maintaining a dialogue that was coherent for a modern audience.

“Something that was quite challenging but also very interesting to explore was trying to maintain the essence that Bram Stoker felt when he wrote it all of those years ago, and try to make it still as engaging and make it resonate with a modern audience,” Lee says. “When he [Stoker] wrote it back in 1890, it was quite shocking, it was all about a vampire coming into modern society and trying to sexualise all these women and try to change them into what he was. Obviously the shock of that and the way that it sits with a modern society now is extremely different, so it was pretty difficult to figure out where it sat with a modern audience while still keeping it faithful.”

Lee also comments on the challenges faced by director Michael Futcher, and the extensive effort put in to re-create the gothic horror elements within the novel in a live setting.

“It’s quite tricky and it’s not done very often, in particular by shows that tour around. That was a massive challenge when we started to produce the show,” she says. “Dracula is one of the most famous pieces of gothic literature ever and Bram Stoker was a genius when it came to creating atmosphere so that was immediately a main focus that we wanted to re-create. It was also a bit difficult because a lot of it is written in letter format or journal entries, but he managed to create these scenes that were so atmospheric and really creepy and visceral just from using his words and he is asking the reader to use their imagination.

“I think that what is most effective for us is the lighting and sound elements. Both of those components marry together so well in this show. The lighting and sound teams have both done a beautiful job, and then we have this epic set that embraces the gothic nature.

“We really loved the challenge of putting on a thrilling, yet sexy show. We knew it was going to be difficult, but that was what attracted us to it.”

When & Where: GPAC, Geelong – May 18 – 20. Tickets via the website.

Written by Alex Callan