On April 20, 2018, I, having seen many Instagram and Snapchat stories about the theatre play, Dracula, that everyone in Lahore seemed to be raving about, decided to go and see for myself what the fuss was about.
The much-talked about play had just begun its four-day successful performances at Alhamra Arts Council. Those who had watched it already told me only good things about it, which got me further excited. I was anticipating an evening full of entertainment.
Put together by Happy Owl Productions, an amateur theatre group, the play dealt with a dramatic mix of themes such as love, loss, and salvation, packaged in light moments — chiefly of the song-and-dance variety — that kept the audiences entertained throughout.
The play was based on the original 1992 Hollywood adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Its duration was (rather unusually) two and a half hours. However, what I liked about the play more than its script was the overall aspects of the production that I felt had made it a success. As team Happy Owl Productions stated, the goal was to create a Pakistani theatre of international standards so that our talents could be displayed on a global level. The set, the costume design, and makeup spoke volumes of the kind of hard work that had gone into the production. The props helped the set to look authentic by virtue of their placement and the way they had been used.
One character’s appearance that I liked in particular was Creature, Dracula’s faithful servant. Because of his entire getup, he looked oh so menacing (read impressive) and shocked me for once. It almost seemed as though Creature had been created digitally or culled from the sets of Harry Potter or The Lord of The Rings.
It was refreshing to see that the actors, consisting of multi talented individuals, were mostly young. I was also delighted to see the crowd of young audience, in their teens and twenties. It showed that more and more people are taking interest in dramatic arts now.
A word about performances: every actor showed their skills in acting as well as dance and singing. The musical interludes were well executed.
Finally, what I did not like about the play was how the character of Dracula was ‘romanticised.’ In the scenes where he is shown as trying to convince Mina of his love for her, he doesn’t seem to take no for an answer and discredits her flat rejection.
I don’t know whether this was supposed to be seen as charming, and if portraying Dracula as a passionate being who is bent on winning over his lady love would appeal to the thinking audiences. Considering that this is 2018, and there are so many accounts of women’s harassment all over the internet, I think it’s high time we understood the meaning of consent and stopped telling people that it is okay to trivialise something as serious as someone’s personal boundaries.
Furthermore, though this has little to do with the script of the play and more with the management, the one issue all of us cribbed about was that the performance was started almost an hour behind schedule. Also, why there seemed to be more people and less seats inside the hall? Was it because the tickets had been sold without consideration for how much room there was in the hall?