Artbox Productions; The Asylum House in German Park; directed by Jason Hignite
For their inaugural production, Artbox Productions is kicking off the Halloween season early with Dracula, set, appropriately, in a “haunted house” attraction, The Asylum. The adaptation by Steven Dietz leaves something to be desired, but since most people know the storyline it’s easy enough to mentally gloss over the rough spots. Act 1 has too many “30-Second Bunnies Theatre” attributes — Harker’s narrations are abrupt summations of what the audience is missing. And some of the actors’ accents are nothing if not comical — as is Dracula’s old lady wig and the phallic transfusion equipment (I kept hearing Austin Powers: “It’s not my bag, baby!”). Under Jason Hignite’s vision, Jeffrey Sanford as Renfield is certainly enthusiastic, but Joshua Ramsey as the count, Allison Reddick as Mina, Mindy Steele as Lucy, Terrence Dellinger as Seward and Mark Meyer as Harker are unimaginative in their performances. The clichéd portrayals of the characters make them uninteresting. And Van Helsing seems like a character from a Mel Brooks movie. If Hignite had just given in and gone B-style with the production (it's unintentionally on the edge as is), this show could have been a riot. But in trying to play it straight, it flounders. Patrick Greathouse’s set design is nice, though, and the unusual location is interesting. Maybe more can be done with this partnership idea in the future. Through Sept. 28; www.theasylumhouse.com.