Encore Michigan

From nerve, a hungry take on Dracula

Preview January 09, 2016 Anne Kiley

The table’s set in an iconic district of Detroit, as Kathe Koja’s ensemble nerve serves up Dracula.

Dracula takes place in the IZZY, a former mercantile building in the historic Corktown neighborhood. But there’s no stage, and no fourth wall: the patrons are invited to sit at the table, while three vampires—terrifying Renfield, seductive Lucy, and Dracula himself—confront Jonathan Harker, played by Chris Jakob. At each performance, Jakob will decide whether Harker flees to safety, or stays to be consumed—and only he will know which way the action turns each night.

Koja, winner of the Bram Stoker Award for her novel The Cipher, has adapted the Stoker classic as an immersive, site-specific event, and she believes that this tension makes the story more involving for the audience.

As Detroit’s art scene opens up to an influx of new residents and visitors, nerve’s immersive events draw an engaged and cosmopolitan crowd: patrons from New York, Toronto, Colorado, and across the Midwest, as well as from Detroit and Ann Arbor, drawn by the innovative adaptations of Wuthering Heights and Alice in Wonderland, that have disturbed some audience members and delighted others.

As for Dracula, in nerve’s version there’s “No blood,” Koja says, “no silly fangs, no coffins and cloaks. It’s all about hunger, because we all need to eat—human or vampire, we want to be satisfied.”

The cast of Dracula includes Chris Jakob, Marisa Dluge (playing the title character), Rachael Harbert, and Steve Xander Carson. Ensemble members have performed in the Detroit area and throughout the Midwest, in Brooklyn, and in film and commissioned events. The costumes and performance installation are created by The Divine Iguana, with food stylings by Juniper Moore.

Dracula runs Jan. 22-23, 29-30, and Feb. 5-6, 2016. For tickets and more, check out gonerve.com/gonerve/#section-dracula.

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