Reviews Section

This page is under constuction but is where you’ll find reviews of events attended by Darlington for Culture members and Darlington Culture Volunteers.

We’ll be reviewing all sorts of arts and culture activities in and around Darlington, from exhibitions to theatre shows, live music, places of interest, family-friendly events, comedy clubs and anything else we might find along the way…

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Review by Helen Devonshire, 13th October 2018
(preview seen at Nottingham Theatre Royal)

Prepare yourself for a terrifying trip as the deceptively simple monochrome staging transports you through a colourful vampire tale. The set travels from wild and windy Whitby, via the local asylum, across Europe to a Transylvanian castle, transforming between those three main locations for most of the play’s action. And what a lot of action there is.

Based on Bram Stoker’s novel published in 1897, the epic narrative has been adapted for the stage by Jenny King and directed by Eduard Lewis. It is packed with all essential elements of the Count Dracula legend – including the madness of Renfield (Cheryl Campbell) and her gruesome eating habits, the initial innocence of Mina and Lucy, plus the men who try to save them. All the characters’ lives intertwine around the vampire’s search for pure souls to corrupt.

Jonathan Harker (Andrew Horton) leaves his loyal fiancée Mina Murray (Olivia Swann) at home in Whitby as he travels to Transylvania to visit the count on what should be a dull clerical errand.

Back in Whitby, Mina and her friend Lucy (Jessica Webber) are left vulnerable to the attentions of Dracula. Lucy’s behaviour changes dramatically and her friends believe she is suffering from an ‘infection’ that makes her as cold as the grave. When Jonathan returns, and in an attempt to help discover what happened to Lucy, he recounts his visit to the castle and describes activities undertaken by the vampire and his undead supporters who prowl through the story in well-choreographed menace that contrasts with formal buttoned-up Victorian society.

Lucy’s hapless suitor Doctor Seward (Evan Milton) also attempts to discover what ails her by drawing on the experience of madwoman Lady Renfield, who thinks she has a hotline to the vampirical count. Finally, vampire hunter Professor Van Helsing (Philip Bretherton) is called upon to challenge the powerful and seemingly irresistible Dracula (Glen Fox) in a classic spine-chilling battle between good and evil.

Dracula is a dark feast for the senses, with supernatural happenings, super visual effects, love, loss and longing. What more could you want from a Gothic horror story? All human life – and death – is here.

Venue: Darlington Hippodrome
To book, visit Darlington Hippodrome website
Dates and times: 6th to 10th November 7.30pm (matinees Thursday 2pm and Saturday 2.30pm)
Age recommendation: 16 years and over
Short clip of the production on

‘Night, Mother

Review by Madeleine Sutcliffe, 9th June 2018

Applause Theatre produced an abridged version of ‘Night, Mother by American playwright, Marsha Norman, as part of the Darlington Arts Festival 2018 – and the final performance was on Saturday 16th June 2018 in Gainford.

Directed by Alan Anderson, the play revolves around two members of the dysfunctional Cates family living in small-town southern America. Mama Thelma (played by Samantha Bradshaw) and her daughter Jessie (played by Emma Simpson) begin an ordinary Saturday evening at home as Mama awaits her weekly manicure from Jessie, who suffers from epilepsy, depression and self-doubt. Jessie’s marriage has failed, and she is estranged from her troubled son Ricky.

What happens when, instead of providing a manicure, Jessie informs Mama about her plans for a life-changing event that would have a profound effect on Thelma? Can Thelma persuade her daughter to wait a little longer before taking action? The evening descends into an edge-of-seat and grippingly dark drama where no one can predict the end with certainty.

Both Samantha and Emma give outstanding and emotionally searing performances. They have also mastered the challenge of acquiring a Deep Southern accent.

The last performance of the play will be held on Saturday, June 16th at the Gainford Academy Theatre. Absolutely not to be missed!

Venue: Academy Theatre, High Green, Gainford DL2 3DL
Date and time: Saturday 16th June 7.30pm
Running time: about 60 minutes
Tickets: £8 on the door