‘Dracula’ — reliving the Transylvanian lore [DailyTimes] 17 Apr, 2018

The play ‘Dracula’ by Happy Owl Productions of Lahore is a wonderful adaption of the popular lore and what I find particularly refreshing about this production is how they’ve tweaked the plot ever so slightly to make it infinitely more interesting.The play as you may know, starts with the medieval Count Dracula in battle with an invading Ottoman army when the news of his demise in battle reaches the castle where his beautiful bride awaits. That announcement sets in motion the events that affect many generations of Transylvanians and eventually culminates the enslavement of the young and beautiful Mina several centuries later, in London, along with her fiance Harker. But of course everything is not as simple it seems and there were several intriguing twists as the play progressed. The cast and crew were all young and full of promise and energy. I am impressed how they have been able to temper this youth with immense maturity and gave an excellent performance of great depth.Take the Count himself, played by Daniyal Ayat, not only did he look elegant and poised but his every move on stage conveyed his character. His slow measured walk was menacing and the ever so subtle movement of the hand or the head conveyed absolute terror. Kudos to the directors on getting such a profound impact out of him. He is also handsome—broad shoulders and slim waist—just as one would imagine the real Count .The chemistry between him and the leading lady was electric.The cast and crew are all young and full of energy. It is impressive how they have been able to temper their youth with immense maturity and gave an excellent performance of great depthPlayed by Jahan Ara Chugtai, the Countess/Mina was everything a leading lady should be. Beautiful, elegant and expressive with a clear and powerful voice, she did brilliant justice to the torment and despair that her character went through. The torment of having to choose between the irreproachable Harper and the duplicitous Count resonated well with the audience. The acting was wonderful and the aforementioned chemistry between her and the Count made up an enjoyable and entertaining play.Shah Fahad as Harker is the third person in the love triangle of the Count and Mina and his performance was also excellent. His role was more complex than one may initially think and there was even a bit of an ‘easter egg’ to his character so it becomes more enjoyable for those who understand it.The Creature is played exceptionally well by Hassan Raza who is just simply amazing. I have no idea how he was able to skip and cavort across the stage on all fours so well! His movements were natural and completely convincing. How the Creature licked its paws and fawned on its master made us completely forget that there was a human being in there.Lucy is a young flirtatious debutant and this role was played eminently well by Natalia Rashid Malik. Usman Banday plays Thomas—the fun loving brother to Lucy and his performance actually had me wanting to go over and check his breath for alcohol.The play includes musical numbers sung live on piano played by John Ferguson who flew in from America just for the play.The directors Saihaam Gulzar Khan and Mahnoor Zaidi made their debut with this play. Saihaam has recently returned from the United States where he was studying at the UC Berkeley. He’s very passionate about theatre. He is working with his family’s renowned business along with this work with Happy Owl while Mahnoor is a recent graduate from York University in Toronto and is as passionate and exuberant for theatre as her co-director.The producers are Maaz Khan Alvi, another UC Berkeley graduate, and Ridda Ali who also is an expert event manager.The play begins on 19th April with shows every evening till the 22nd at Alhamra Arts Centre, Hall No 1.Published in Daily Times, April 17th 2018.

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