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
The cast of Giant Nerd Australia’s improv comedy Galactic Trek, returned to Fringe this year at the Rob Roy Hotel, this time with their show The Search for Zork. This show had the crew of the USS ImproCity visit a planet full of the undead, which they must try to stop from spreading across the galaxy. For an hour, they presented a story that was both fun and evoked a feeling of Star Trek: The Original Series.
A highlight of Galactic Trek is how it pays homage to low budget sci-fi films and TV shows. This was clear in their descriptions and sound effects. The doors would almost never open on time, the transporter sound would take some time to appear and the bridge is described as being held together by tape. For Star Trek fans, there were references galore, the Kirk vs. Spock battle music being a notable one. Being a fan of sci-fi myself, I found all these little references well done. Even with few props, the actors were able to convey everything effectively.
Another highlight was the characters. Captain Bill Jamieson, one of the main characters, had a very Captain Kirk essence to him, in both appearance and acting. The character of Zork had a very ’80s sci-fi appearance, particularly with his green head and horns. The standout character though was a red shirt called Jones Jonesy. Jonesy is how I imagine Blackadder’s Baldric would be if he were in outer space.
The show wasn’t without its shortcomings. While it did have a lot of funny moments, a lot of these were based on sci-fi references. This did not affect me as I already knew the jokes, but not everyone would understand them. For a show about searching for Zork, there was little actual searching for him. The actual search for Zork was minor to the plot, which made me wonder why they would call it the search for Zork. It should also be noted that Zork’s actor’s pants ripped during the performance, which was by no means the actor’s fault but did detract from the experience slightly.
Galactic Trek: The Search for Zork is a whole lot of improv sci-fi fun. It had many great references and a very Original Series plot. While there were a few shortcomings, it was still a fun time. Fans of sci-fi would really enjoy this show and its unique spin on Star Trek.
Words by Cameron Lowe
You can catch Galactic Trek: The Search for Zork at Rob Roy Hotel until the 10th of March. For ticketing and more click here.