A deeply disturbed, spider-eating nutjob. These are my thoughts on the character of Renfield from Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897). Throughout the book, we are only really ever told about Renfield through the other characters. This all changed on March 5 at Bakehouse Theatre’s Studio, when Grist to the Mill Productions debuted Renfield’s perspective on life in Renfield: In the Shadow of the Vampire. This one-man show adds depth to this character and tells the story of Dracula through Renfield’s eyes.
Renfield’s terrors are brought to life in incredible realism throughout the show. The actor does a fantastic job in capturing the sense of insanity in a late 19th century mental asylum. The costume design too, reflected well on that time period together with the battered mattress on the floor and wooden chair. Although minimal, this was effective in turning the stage into a cell. I really did feel transported to this time period throughout the show, this was enhanced by both special effects and lighting.
As engaging as the ramblings of Renfield were, it did almost become an insanity trip myself watching this show. The ramblings were presented in long intervals and are difficult to digest at times. They progress slowly and it may appear that the story is going nowhere. In many ways, this captures the essence of the novel really well. They do well to emphasise the craziest and disturbing parts of Renfield, including his catching of flies and hearing the voices of Dracula. Having read the novel, this is both effective and almost difficult to understand.
Renfield: In the Shadow of the Vampire captures the character of Renfield effectively with high accuracy. It feels like an official extension of Dracula and offers a different perspective into the story, one which would’ve been great to have. If you enjoy the book and the film adaptations then you will really enjoy this show. It’s a faithful retelling of a classic horror novel and a disturbing character.
3.5 / 5 stars
Words by Cameron Lowe
Renfield: In the Shadow of the Vampire will be playing at the Bakehouse Theatre on March 10 and 14 at 6pm
For more information and to purchase tickets click here