On Saturday, November 22, I had the pleasure of watching the RPI Players perform Dracula. The play started out with Renfield (Christopher Urig), an inmate of an insane asylum, being fed a meal. Lucy (Jocelyn Griser ’16) and Mina (Taylor Turner ’16) were gossiping about men; Mina was engaged to Harker (Jeremy Feldman ’15) and Lucy was trying to figure out which of several men to choose from. Meanwhile, Harker was on a business visit to Count Dracula (Garrison Johnston ’18).
The play was set up with three separate scenes in the Playhouse. One scene would be lit up while the other two remained dark. One of these scenes showed Transylvania and Dracula’s castle; another showed the insane asylum; and the third showed Lucy’s house. Mina and Harker wrote letters back and forth, with Harker talking about his journeys. Harker’s letters eventually stopped, which understandably worried Mina.
One of the men Lucy was trying to decide between was the doctor who ran the insane asylum, Seward (Anton Lohner Piazza ’18). When Lucy was feeling ill, Seward visited her. One night Lucy ran off and Mina found her on a ledge. Lucy’s illness was starting to baffle Seward, so he called in Van Helsing (Reece Kearney ’15), who had trained Seward to be a doctor. Seward had saved Van Helsing’s life once. Seward was also becoming bothered with Renfield’s craziness; he was shouting in the night, calling “Master!” and appeared to be eating mice and other abnormal creatures. Renfield was also talking about Seward’s love for Lucy, or at least appeared to be. During these scenes, Urig conveyed emotion very well. He was shaking and otherwise appeared to be a crazed man.
Van Helsing assessed the situation, especially noting a cut on Lucy’s neck. She was given a blood transfusion. Van Helsing and Seward decided to move Lucy to the house near the insane asylum. Van Helsing was slightly mysterious about it, but decided to put garlic on the windows and gave Lucy a necklace of garlic.
Meanwhile, Mina had at last heard from her fiancé Harker. He was quite ill and in a hospital. Mina traveled to him and found him vastly different; he had clearly been through a traumatic experience. Harker gave Mina a notebook that detailed his journey. He was too scared to open it. Van Helsing convinced Mina to read the notebook. The scene shifted back to Dracula’s castle, with Harker meeting Dracula. Dracula behaved rather strangely, walking around Harker and looking like he wanted to eat Harker up. Harker stayed in the castle for several days. Dracula warned him not to go in certain areas.
A couple Vixen—undead women—scared Harker quite a bit. Harker also noticed a great deal of shoveling. He also could not remember the name of the property deed he had sold to Dracula; the name was burned out of his diary, too. All in all, it was a scary experience for him. Van Helsing became even more certain that vampires existed. At the same time, Seward found his dear Lucy dead, her garlic necklace on the floor. He was upset and went downstairs to the couch. To his surprise, Lucy came down and tried to kiss him. Van Helsing walked in and held up a cross to get Lucy to go away. He explained to a very upset Seward what was going on.
Dracula went after Mina next. Renfield also escaped. Van Helsing and Seward, who was now healed, went around to destroy the boxes of dirt that Dracula had brought with him. Vampires like Dracula, according to Van Helsing, had to sleep every day in their own soil, away from the sunlight. Harker finally figured out the name of the property he had sold—one that was adjacent to the insane asylum.
Van Helsing, Seward, and Harker went down to Lucy’s tomb to drive a stake through her heart. This would keep her from coming back ever again. Seward was quite upset with the prospect, but was convinced to help out. Mina was growing quite weak; Van Helsing set up a blood transfusion from Harker to her but then was called out by Seward. Dracula appeared and sucked blood from the transfusion, causing Harker to faint. Mina then licked some of Dracula’s blood. After Dracula left, Harker recovered, and Van Helsing and Seward came back, Mina was upset that she was now impure. She also found that she was able to see what Dracula was doing. He was heading back to Transylvania in his last bin of soil. The four raced to get to him and drive a stake through his heart. They succeeded, just barely.
Dracula overall was good. The acting was really great and made it feel as if the actors and actresses were actually living the scenes they were acting. Stay tuned for the Players next show, which I’m sure will be great!