Modern audiences are so familiar with Count Dracula that they don’t realise how powerful was the story of an encounter with a vampire when it was first published.
If you want a reminder, go to the windswept clifftop on which stand the ruins of New Slains Castle, just north of Cruden Bay, where Modo staged “Doricula” .
Dr Johnson visited it in 1773 and wrote that the very walls “seem only a continuation of a perpendicular rock, the foot of which is beaten by the waves”.
There you find a roofless shell, with North Sea views glimpsed through gaping windows, spiral staircases leading nowhere, and jagged outlines silhouetted against the sky.
At the heart of the castle you will find “a small octagonal room seemingly without a window of any sort”, the very words Bram Stoker used to describe the centre of Dracula’s Transylvanian Castle.
Stoker spent many holidays at Cruden Bay and at the Kilmarnock Arms they are only too pleased to show you his signature in the hotel’s guest book.
When he visited Slains Castle it may have loomed intimidatingly over the clifftop and its conical roofs and square tower house may have oozed menace but it was not yet a ruin. It looked as in the photo below and its gardens had an international reputation.
However, Stoker saw in it the setting for his Gothic horror story. Thirty years later the roof was dismantled by new owners to avoid paying tax and the castle quickly fell into decay.
Now it matches Stoker’s descriptions better than it ever did in the author’s day.
Modo, the Peterhead-based theatre and circus company, made an inspired choice to set their adaptation of Dracula on the forecourt of the Castle.
As darkness descends, the atmosphere becomes tangibly more threatening.
In a one -hour show the cast recreate the story of Dracula’s reign and fall by means of acrobatics, firesticks, juggling, flag waving and knife throwing.
There is a little Doric spoken (as there was in Stoker’s novel) - hence the title - but essentially it is a non-verbal show played to a sound track of perfectly selected music.
One can’t imagine that this formula would work but it does, and sweeps you away with its energy.
The cast of seven all come across as having great stage presence.
They never over-act in spite of obvious temptations to do so, even when sinking fangs into the necks of hapless victims.
With minimal props they were totally convincing and never strayed out of character.
The whole performance was a tour de force.
Peterhead is lucky to have a performance of this quality on its doorstep.