Fallen Angel Productions' sexy, scary Dracula: Hot blooded

Hot blooded

Investigating Dracula - sex therapist or harbinger of death?

The best sex is immortal, undead sex in Fallen Angel Productions' Dracula

Torture porn may score at the box office these days, but for Fallen Angel Productions, the classic, iconic characters of horror work much better. In 2006, their inaugural production was Monster, playwright Neal Bell’s take on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Now, they’re mounting Stephen Dietz’s Dracula, an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s 1897 masterpiece.

"Dracula is sort of a character that everyone has some kind of uncontrollable attraction to," says director Frances Balenzano, Fallen Angel’s co-founder. Balenzano believes the Dracula story is one that, above and beyond being a frighteningly good piece of source material, carries subtextual themes that speak directly to audiences today, couched in a character and story that’s culturally familiar.

"We would like to think that we wouldn’t choose the path to evil given the choice, but sometimes I think we surprise ourselves. If that evil course is more interesting, it’s a lot more difficult to say no," she explains. "Dracula is that sexy bad choice, definitely, if there ever was one."

Proffering a hypothetical, Balenzano continues: "As a society, we have a huge fear of death. We mask it. We pretend it doesn’t exist. We pretend it doesn’t smell bad when you die and that it’s not ugly at all. If Dracula is able to remove all of that for us, I think a lot of us would end up saying yes to what he’s offering."

Dracula’s unrepressed sexuality also looms large in Balenzano’s show. She believes that the Count’s unrepentant hunger and his concomitant pursuits bring to light behaviours and appetites our society condemns. Put another way, Fallen Angel’s Dracula displays how amenable Dracula is to the roles of teaching tool and "sex therapist."

"We do repress ourselves, sexually, to a large extent," she says. "[Dracula's] sexuality is a big part of his character, and he uses that sexuality to seduce his victims because, of course, fear tastes bad, and he can’t get what he wants until he gives you what you want."

"I obviously did a lot of research and watched enough vampire movies to last me several lifetimes. In a lot of the versions I saw, even, of course, the well-known Béla Lugosi version [of Count Dracula] seems very unemotional, and doesn’t express very much externally. I think our version, with Paul Van Dyck [playing the titular role], does express a fair amount on the surface, and Dracula does have a very obvious animal-like quality to him."

Dracula, Oct. 30 to Nov. 8
Monument-National, Studio Hydro-Québec (1182 St-Laurent Blvd.)

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