The Missing Link Reviews

Dracula the Ultimate, Illustrated Edition of the World Famous Vampire Play

edited by David J. Skal. St. Martin's Press. Paperback. 153 pages. 10.95


Dracula at the Little TheatreIn what Bram Stoker once described as a "shilling shocker", DRACULA has since become a modern day icon, whether through reprints of the famous novel or as the character produced by the film industry. However, most of our perceptions of the arch-vampire originated with the numerous stage adaptations. Very few, if any, portrayed the Count as described in Stoker's novel, that of a cadaverous old man with white hair and a drooping mustache until Francis Ford Coppala's glossy film version of 1992.

David Skal has managed to unearth information regarding the stageplay of "Dracula" as performed by Hamilton Deane's theatre company that toured Britain during 1924. The role of the Count went to a young actor named Raymond Huntley who would later become a well employed character actor enjoying a long and fruitful career in the British film industry. By 1929 Huntley had already portrayed Count Dracula more than 2000 times. When Huntley refused an offer to reprise his role on Broadway, this act afforded Lugosi his big break, but even he never portrayed the Count as often as Huntley. After 33 weeks in 1927, the Broadway vampire play rewritten by dramatist John L. Balderston established Lugosi as a matinee idol of the legitimate theatre.

The Balderston adaptation is reprinted in its entirety in this book along with a series of tantilising stills of the play and of others who once donned the cape. Included are remarkable sketched caricatures of the performers from the theatrical press, pictures of those who had a hand in creating the successful production, plus reviews from the trade papers and a slew of additional information that Skal has managed to dig up since writing his seminal work on Count Dracula, "Hollywood Gothic".

Like all of Skal's output, this makes for an invaluable source of reference and is a fine companion to the aforementioned "Hollywood Gothic".

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