My blood ran cold and I was fixed to my chair by chains of icy horror.
Before me a terrifying silhouette emerged from the pallid green mist.
For a moment it resembled Gary Oldman’s (also terrifying) bouffant from the 1992 film adaptation of Dracula, by Francis Coppola.
But then it turned out to be the hair-do of Lady Renfield, the batty dowager played brilliantly by Cheryl Campbell, in a new production of Bram Stoker’s classic chiller at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal.
The veteran star’s gleeful scoffing of a rat was a highpoint that sparked appalled giggles in a show that couldn’t decide if was a thriller or a comedy.
While some scenes in Jenny King’s adaptation mustered an earnest sense of desperation and fear – largely thanks to the efforts of an energetic cast - others were played for high camp.
The introduction of Glen Fox’s Count reminded me of Ferdy Mayne’s louche bloodsucker in the 1960s Hammer horror spoof “Dance of the Vampires” – which mitigated against later attempts to create suspense.
Jessica Webber, as the licentious Lucy, and Phillip Bretherton, as Van Helsing, a boozy Dutch vampire expert, both did excellent work.
Despite poor pacing, there were moments when eerie lighting, sinister physical performances and startling illusions combined to nightmarish effect in a minimal, but ingenious set that switched quickly from lunatic asylum to Transylvanian castle.
“Dracula”, by the Touring Consortium Theatre Company, at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal, runs from Wednesday, October 10 - Saturday 13.
Check the website for more details.