Essential Review

This review has been conducted by a member of the Essential Suffolk team


Written by Tom Mallaburn, Phil Mulryne, Jon Edgley Bond & Cal McCrystal

Mercury Theatre. Colchester

Reviewer: Lesely Rawlinson

Mercury Theatre Colchester, until November 16th


Ever wondered how radio sound effects are made? The wind whipping over a mountain plain, a stone sarcophagus being eased open or the terrifying squish of a stake through the heart of a vampire? This very clever and hilariously funny play will have you marvelling at the ingenuity of 1930s BBC brains and their finely honed art of creating convincing sound effects from everyday household objects.

Our gallant team of actors are performing in the BBC radio studio at Broadcasting House as we join them for their live broadcast of Bram Stoker’s… pause for dramatic effect…Dracula! Complete with hallmark cut glass accents and in full evening dress, of course, the chilling tale unfolds but there are plenty of laughs along the way. 

Tom Mallaburn sets the scene perfectly as the off key pianist with a convincing veneer of stupidity. Our announcer is played by Dan Starky – well known to TV audiences not least for his numerous appearances in Dr Who – and whose physical comedy in particular made me laugh out loud from the very start. Jon Edgley Bond and Fiona Sheehan are our ‘darlings’. The former, with his matinee idol good looks and twinkling Colin Firth-esque delivery melting the heart of the latter,  her comic timing was impeccable – and all while clonking door knockers, squelching peaches and wrestling with Rice Crispies. How they managed to learn a script within a script, make the sound effects, remember to replace the props in the right order all while knowing which character voice to use at the right time is beyond me.

I particularly enjoyed the comic genius of Joanna Wake. So often on the periphery of the scene her momentary glances and vacant air were a joy and, along with Miss Sheehan, so essentially ‘of the time’. As for David Benson in the role of Count Alucard - his performance grew and grew as the plot developed until I was squealing with delight as he skate boared across the set…but I’m giving away too much!

However, next time you hear a terracotta flower pot being scraped across a brick (we’re back to the sarcophagus) the flesh of a watermelon being bludgeoned (squish of stake through heart) or the rustle of washing up gloves (bats in the belfry) keep your crucifix and garlic close at hand!

By the way, it’s interesting how the fragrance of a bashed up water melon lingers in the auditorium!