We Love Arts: Dracula

Dan Istrate and Natalie Berk in Synetic Theater's "Dracula." Photo credit: Graeme B. Shaw

Dan Istrate and Natalie Berk in Synetic Theater's "Dracula." Photo credit: Graeme B. Shaw

Oh, Vlad. How we missed you. Vampires are back in fashion, sucking blood and living forever. Sad soulful looks are fine, but let’s say you prefer your undead to be more aggressive and lustful. Synetic Theater’s revamp of their smash rendition of “Dracula” will be just the thing to get you in the mood. For Halloween, that is!

The company throws themselves into the well-known tale with unbridled enthusiasm. In some cases, they are literally thrown – the physicality of Irina Tsikurishvili’s choreography caused the audience to gasp repeatedly. As always, the artistry of the ensemble creates breathtaking images – fluttering hands for firelight, tossing hair as horses, a crawling bat – too many to mention.

As Dracula, Dan Istrate’s raw masculinity and wry humor were so on target, I thought the women next to me were going to have several Victorian fainting spells. Director Paata Tsikurishvili understands that humor and terror go hand in hand and draws the audience smoothly through laughter and shock. This is most apparent with poor Renfield, the madman battling the last vestiges of his morality, played by Irakli Kavsadze with both vigor and pathos. And everyone just loves being titillated by the bloody seduction scenes – Mary Werntz as Lucy Westenra gets the brunt of this, her vulnerable delicacy turned into rampant bloodlust is one of the many stunning moments.

Dan Istrate in Synetic Theater's "Dracula." Photo credit: Graeme B. Shaw

Dan Istrate in Synetic Theater's "Dracula." Photo credit: Graeme B. Shaw

I was lucky enough to see their “Dracula” the first time around a few years back, and everything I loved about that production is still here. What’s obviously different is that the previous bare bones production values are now fleshed out – the company’s physical artistry is enhanced by great design. Anastasia R. Simes hits the mark with sexy costumes and an outlandish yet appropriate set design featuring a giant spider. Creepy spider eggs sacs hang over all like a sci-fi nightmare, and it’s all perfectly lit by Andrew F. Griffin.

I’ve said it before – this is the most brilliantly consistent theater company in the city, and what’s more, always a guaranteed fun night out. Go get your bloodlust satiated. It’s the season, after all.

Synetic Theater at Rosslyn Spectrum
Now thru November 15
1611 N Kent Street
Arlington, VA 22209
Tickets: 800-494-8497 or
Recommended for ages 16 and up only due to its graphic and sexually suggestive nature.

As one of the founding editors of We Love DC, Jenn’s passions are theater and cocktails. After two decades in the city, she’s loved every quirky, mundane, elegant, rude minute of her DC life. A proud advocate for DC’s talented drinks scene, she’s judged the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s ARTINI contest, the DC Rickey Month contest, the Jefferson Hotel’s Quill Cocktail competition, and is a founding member of LUPEC DC. A graduate of Catholic University’s drama program, she toured the country as a member of National Players, and has been both an actor and a costume designer before jumping the aisle to theater criticism. Writing for We Love DC restored her happiness after a life-threatening illness, and she’s grateful to you, dear readers. Send your suggestions to jenn (at) welovedc (dot) com and follow her on Twitter.

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  1. Pingback: DRACULA: The reviews are in! « Until Something Moves