Stage set for 'Dracula' play despite biting criticism
FANS of Bram Stoker will soon be able to see his efforts at writing a play based on the world-famous 'Dracula' novel – but unfortunately, critics feel it lacked bite.
Although it would become one of the 20th century's best-selling novels, 'Dracula' actually first entered the public domain as a play. For one performance only on May 18, 1897, Stoker's stage play 'Dracula: or The Un-Dead' was performed at the Lyceum Theatre in London, just days before the novel was published on May 26.
Now the Clontarf-born writer's script will feature in a British Library exhibition called 'Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination', which opens in October.
However, Stoker's play was a very plodding adaptation. It lasted over four-and-a-half hours and was pronounced "dreadful" by acclaimed actor Henry Irving, who was considered the real-life inspiration for the character.
'Dracula' survives on the stage because of a fellow Irishman, Hamilton Deane. He secured permission from Stoker's widow and tried to persuade playwrights to adapt the script. In 1923, Deane decided to do it himself.
Deane's play opened in June 1924. It was such a huge hit that it has since become one of the most often produced plays in Britain.
It is also interesting that the look that we have come to identify with Dracula comes from Deane's description rather than Stoker's.