Dracula: History

Dracula 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 a 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, the success of the revue led to four performances being staged at the Library Theatre from 26 - 29 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. The piece was performed in the smaller Lecture room space at the Library as during the winter 1974 and 1975 seasons, the Concert Room was unavailable. As a result, all the productions were staged in a thrust rather than in-the-round configuration.
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!). The song was featured in both the touring and expanded versions of the show, although the programme refers to it as 'Enry Albert's Ghost (probably due to space limitations).

The rest of the production was written predominantly by company members Bob Eaton and Polly Warren with additional contributions by Alison Skilbeck for the expanded version of the show alongside several traditional songs. Two sketches written by the often surrealist actor, writer and director Ken Campbell were also featured in the revue. Most of the original songs and sketches - and several of the traditional songs - were either inspired by or drawn from legends the Scarborough / North Yorkshire locale.

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 are 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 with the [spoilers!] 'heroine' unexpectedly being a werewolf.

What The Devil! has never been published and is not available for production.

Article by Simon Murgatroyd. Copyright: Haydonning Ltd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.