PALE skin, sharp fangs, and hypnotic eyes. These images come to mind when one hears the word vampire — a blood-sucking creature that originated from Bram Stoker’s 19th century novel Dracula. Popularized by actors such as Christopher Lee and Gary Oldman in film, the character of Count Dracula has been a constant source of fear and fascination for many.

As part of its 16th theater season, the Cultural Center of the Philippine’s Tanghalang Pilipino brings to life this horror classic with Drakula, a Filipino translation of Liz Lochhead’s stage adaptation of the novel.

Many centuries ago, Count Drakula (Roeder Camañag) curses God after the death of his beloved. This act of blasphemy condemns him to become the “undead” — a creature of the night who drinks blood. Centuries later, a solicitor named Jonathan Harker (Paolo O’Hara) shows up at his castle who shows him a portrait of Mina Westerman (Tess Jamias), his fiancée who looks exactly like Drakula’s dead love.

A series of horrific events follows. Count Drakula, determined to possess Mina, imprisons Jonathan at the castle, travels to England and victimizes Mina’s younger sister Lucy (Mayen Estañero) on one of his nocturnal prowls.

The tale of Drakula is more than just a horror story. It is also a story about tragic love. People can’t help but feel pity and fear, because before becoming a hideous vampire, Drakula was just an ordinary man in love.

Sexual tension

According to director Ana Valdes-Lim, Drakula’s character and sexuality was chosen with boldness and aggressiveness to address modern audiences.

The production tried to increase the immediacy of the film by emphasizing the seductive power of Drakula’s character. This was achieved in several nude scenes and sexually tensed interludes between Drakula and his victims.

Wikang Filipino sa perspekto ng Tomasino

When Drakula entered the scene completely naked except for a loosely draped robe, the audience was shocked.

The actors’ movement, as well as the lights and music, contributed in maintaining the erotic atmosphere of the play.

Fear factor

To maintain the sinister mood and suspense of the play, red, blue, and purple lights were used coupled with live drumbeat by percussionist Zach Lucero.

The wooden coffin, the gothic metal gates, the lone swing at the center, and the creepy asylum comprised the set of Drakula. The set design showed production designer Liz Fjelle Batoctoy’s ability to utilize space well.

The Victorian costumes and grotesque make-up of the characters fitted the period of the story.

Camañag brilliantly performed the role of monster, seducer, and animal. He was also commendable for his graceful movement, seen during his portrayal of Drakula as a shuffling old man and as a preying animal in the next. It was especially frightening when he suddenly crawled into the audience in one of the scenes.

Estañero also gave a memorable performance as Lucy. She rendered the role with a mixture of innocence, charm, and sensuality. Ma. Stephanie Rose R. Hilario


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