Dracula: BackgroundDracula is classified as one of Alan Ayckbourn's Grey Plays. These are plays which are acknowledged miscellaneous minor pieces by Alan Ayckbourn, which have received limited performance but have never been published, are not available for production and are not included in the official canon of Ayckbourn plays.
Dracula is one act sketch by Alan Ayckbourn which is part of What The Devil!, a revue devised by Bob Eaton and Polly Warren for the Library Theatre company in 1975. The show was originally conceived to tour pubs in the Scarborough and Ryedale area with three actors (Bob Eaton, Polly Warren and David Ross). It appears to have largely been conceived as the result of Scarborough's Library Theatre receiving funding from the recently formed Norton And Malton Arts Council.
After the touring season finished, four performances were staged at the Library Theatre in November with a slightly expanded programme and a new cast with Bob Eaton and Polly Warren joined by Stephen Mallatratt, Alison Skilbeck and Malcolm Hebden. What The Devil! was later revived as part of a four week residency by the Library Theatre company at the Georgian Theatre, Richmond, in May 1976.
Alan Ayckbourn’s connection to all this is he contributed one of the sketches to the expanded version of the revue performed at the Library Theatre and the Georgian Theatre. The five-hander is entitled Dracula and features the infamous vampire and his hunch-backed henchman Squelch’s encounter with an unintelligible shepherd, his wife and peculiar daughter. It has nothing to do with the actual story of Dracula other than sharing a vampire by the same name.
Alan also contributed a song entitled The Ghost Of 'Enry Albert to the revue, with music by Bob Eaton. It tells of an unfortunate bride whose recurrent bridal nights are haunted by the ghost of her first husband 'Enry Albert Murgatroyd (no relation!).
It was largely believed this was the only production of Dracula, but in 1992 it formed part of another revue - again directed by Bob Eaton - at the New Victoria Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme. Dracula was revived as part of The Night Before The Morning After Show, which ran at the venue between January and March 1992.
More recently, an extract from the play was performed by the dedicated Ayckbourn amateur drama company Dick & Lottie at the Ayckbourn 2011 event at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough. The complete play was also performed as part of the Ayckbourn Shorts event at the University Of York in June 2012. This event, directed by Tom Wright, showcased some of the more obscure play-texts in the Ayckbourn Archive, which is held in the Borthwick Institute for Archives at the university.
The one act play also provided the inspiration for Horror Story, one of the pieces presented within Alan Ayckbourn's The Karaoke Theatre Company, first presented at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in 2016. Although not a direct copy of the original piece, it is very much inspired by Dracula and includes the same ending of the 'heroine' unexpectedly being a werewolf.
What The Devil! has never been published and is not available for production.
Copyright: Simon Murgatroyd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.