Dracula: Mina’s Reckoning – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

There have been innumerable re-tellings of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Morna Pearson’s distinctly Scottish adaptation Mina’s Reckoning is a compelling theatrical triumph that speaks with clarity, originality and power to a modern audience.

It’s 1897 and in an Aberdeenshire asylum for women a group of “unreasonable” woman are gathered. These women, so intelligent, so “normal” are confined here. They share, with an unexpected humour, their lived experiences as women in the Victorian era, how every woman’s role is to fulfil their biological destiny: “books shrink your ovaries”, either “grow a brain or grow a baby” and the staggering arrogance of men. Mina Murray’s mind is set differently, intellectually curious, independently minded, she is thwarted at every turn. In the asylum she begins to recount her encounters with the “muckle beast”, Dracula.

Morna Pearson’s lyrical writing packs a punch and hits its mark with every line. It is firmly rooted in the Scots storytelling tradition, the tale weaves a magical web around you as it unfolds. For all its modern sensibilities it stays laudably faithful to the narrative we are so familiar with, making it all the more appealing. All the familiar tropes are here. What has been added or removed only improves on the source.

We move between the wild Aberdeenshire coast and Transylvania with ease. Kenneth MacLeod’s towering, multi-layered set is utterly glorious. The looming shadows create a perpetual unease. Aideen Malone’s lighting design is the best seen in many a year and Lewis den Hertog’s video design is complimentary and utterly fitting for the setting. A particular highlight is how Dracula’s sea journey to Scotland is realised.

The all female non-binary ensemble are universally magnificent. Liz Kettle is a stunningly smooth, sardonic Dracula, Danielle Jam a sure-footed Mina and Maggie Bain a repellently misogynistic Dr. Seward. The rest of the ensemble are pitch perfect.

This is a work of ambitious scale that is realised perfectly. Morna Pearson’s writing is a triumph. It entertains spectacularly, it educates without patronising and leaves you wanting more.


Images: Mihaela Bodlovic

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