FRINGE 2020 – Renfield : In the Shadow of the Vampire – 4K

Is it madness to want to live forever? What lengths would you go to in order to postpone death? To maintain your youth, strength, vitality? This darkly funny production poses these questions and more. Nominally set in a lunatic asylum of the late 1800s the ideas it contains are pertinent to today’s world where we are constantly facing new moral dilemmas as the range of opportunities presented to us widen.
Playwright and performer Ross Ericson keeps his character close to the one described by Bram Stoker in his novel ‘Dracula’. This Renfield has an imposing physical presence and displays manic behaviours which oscillate between high excitement and depths of gloom and self doubt. Ericson delivers through poetic language a monologue told from the perspective of Renfield which informs us of his backstory, of the traumas and disappointments that have led him to this place. From the outset the audience learn that they are there to judge Renfield’s actions, motives and sanity. Taking place in the intimate setting of the Bakehouse Theatre’s Studio, the stark set with its black painted walls makes us feel that we could be viewing him in his cell. We become like members of the public of 19th century England who toured asylums to gawk at the inmates as if they were animals in a zoo.
Renfield wants his food fresh. He comes to believe that by eating live creatures he will obtain their life force for himself. He starts with flies that he believes have been sent to him by his master, Dracula, whom he eagerly but nervously awaits. The tension is added to by the skilful use of sound and lighting effects.
Renfield has a conscience and this fact causes him distress. As his appetites increase he ponders the moral questions posed by his behaviour. How far will he go?
Renfield : In the Shadow of the Vampire is presented by Grist To The Mill (UK). There is only one more show during this year’s Adelaide Fringe – this Saturday 14th March at 6pm.

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