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Dracula: or The Un-Dead
(A Play in Prologue and Five Acts)
by Bram Stoker
edited and annotated by Sylvia Starshine

Pumpkin Books, 277 pages

Dracula: or The Un-Dead
Bram Stoker
Bram Stoker, born in Ireland, attended Dublin University where he played football (which is actually soccer, as far as North Americans are concerned). He went on to be a civil servant. His interest in theatre led him to work as a drama critic and he became the stage manager for the great actor, Henry Irving. He counted among his friends people such as Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Oscar Wilde.

His work included Dracula (1897), The Lady of the Shroud (1909) and The Lair of the White Worm (1911).

ISFDB Bibliography
Bram Stoker's Dracula Drinking Game
Books-On-Line: Dracula by Bram Stoker
Dracula's Guest by Bram Stoker
Bram Stoker's Dracula -- Chapter I
Transylvania Press

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Margo MacDonald


"This is a disgusting play... and I regret that it was ever put on stage..."
So spoke the Lord Chamberlain of a later Dracula in 1927, but these words might just as well have been spoken by Bram Stoker himself with respect to this version of Dracula: or The Un-Dead.

You see, Stoker never meant for this version of Dracula to be performed. In fact, the script was pasted together by Stoker from bits and pieces of the novel -- literally.  Ms. Starshine informs us in the introduction to this book that Stoker actually just took a copy of the published novel with a pair of scissors and cut and pasted the dialogue onto the pages of the "script." Why did he bother, you might ask? Well, he wanted to be the first to produce a staged version of his novel, thereby guaranteeing that he would own the theatrical rights to his masterpiece. This would stop cheap knock-offs from being produced. Probably he intended one day to write a real stage version of the story as a vehicle for his great friend Sir Henry Irving to perform in at the Lyceum Theatre which Stoker managed, but he never did. It was years after his death that his widow allowed someone else to have the theatrical rights to finally put the story on stage (but fortunately, not this version).

These are just some of the interesting tidbits offered up by Ms. Starshine in the introduction to this book. She includes lots of other interesting details about things like how much the actors got paid, who they were, etc. She also tells us that this play, in fact, has only been performed twice and only as a reading in both cases. The first time was in 1897 when Stoker had the Lyceum players fulfill the legal rights requirement of "at least one public performance" by doing a reading of the play. They posted notices half an hour before the reading was to begin and read the play for a paying audience of two. The reading took over four hours. The second time was in 1997 when Sylvia Starshine held a reading of it, again for two paying audience members (though by design this time). This reading took over six hours (due, most likely, to the extra scenes added by Ms. Starshine from the novel in order to try to make more sense of the plot).

The introduction to this book, like I said, is interesting. The play itself is unbearable. I tried to read the whole thing, I really did, but I just couldn't do it. A few months ago, I read the novel Dracula for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed it. Unfortunately, although the play is basically a pared-down version of the novel, it has lost the aspects of the story and storytelling that made the novel chilling and seductive. It is hard to take the detailed exposition in monologue the characters are given in place of the novel's descriptive paragraphs. Here is a sample from the opening lines of the Prologue (the only part Stoker wrote new for the play):

"Well this is a pretty nice state of things! After a drive through solid darkness with an unknown man whose face I have not seen and who has in his hand the strength of twenty men and who can drive back a pack of wolves by holding up his hand... to be left here in the dark before a... a ruin. Upon my life I'm beginning my professional experience in a romantic way!"
(That's just a sample -- Harker speaks like this for a couple of more paragraphs and many other characters go on for pages in the same vein -- no pun intended.) Pumpkin Books is a young publishing house and this is one of their first books which they are promoting under a "First Time Ever in Print!" banner. Why did they bother, you might ask? Good question. Though there has been some fine work done on the introduction and annotation, it is hardly enough to recommend the entire book. Certainly this book will be of interest to anyone who simply must have everything ever written by Stoker (you know this means you if you own a copy of "Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland" -- a government publication written by Stoker while he was employed as a civil servant), but it does nothing to offer further insight into Dracula nor further any appreciation of Stoker's writing. Personally, I think that if Stoker himself were "un-dead" he would be embarrassed to discover that this slap-dash script had been published. But then again, I think he would also be secretly pleased at the surprise of discovering that some of his writing had so endured in its impact that people might now even want to read the worst of it.

Copyright © 1998 by Margo MacDonald

Margo has always been drawn toward fantasy and, at the age of 5, decided to fill her life with it by pursuing a career as a professional actress. Aside from theatre (and her husband), Margo's passion has been for books. Her interests are diverse and eclectic, but the bulk fall within the realm of speculative fiction. She tells us that her backlog has reached 200 books and she's ready to win the lottery and retire.

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