On a not so dark and spooky night Ann Massey O’Regan and Chris Rush took it upon themselves to enter into the mysterious world of Castle Dracula in Dublin. ANN MASSEY O’REGAN tells us what they discovered inside.
In the leafy Dublin suburb of Clontarf stands the birthplace of one Mr. Bram Stoker and opposite that lies Castle Dracula. Now, you would be forgiven for being apprehensive that the entrance to the home of the Prince of Darkness begins at a fitness centre with limited signage as we were, but our concerns were to be unfounded.
Undeterred, we ventured into the foyer of Westwood Fitness Club and began our mission to investigate Castle Dracula. On arrival we were greeted to a pair of stately thrones and a sign that indicated we were indeed in the right place. As we were early we walked around the venue and still could not get an indication of where the ‘castle’ was situated or what was to come, leaving us with no preconceptions, just anticipation.
Slowly the foyer began to fill up with excited visitors as we waited to see what would happen and where we would be led. A slightly strange start as we were asked to make a list of several things a vampire could do that a human could not as we sat in the cafeteria.  A certain Ireland Editor’s mind went completely blank much to her horror and humiliation but thankfully the day was saved by Chris who reeled a list off without breaking a sweat!  The relevance of this exercise would become clear very soon indeed.
As we walked through the corridors of the centre still somewhat unsure, we finally got a peak through the doorway of Castle Dracula and a sense of nervous excitement took hold. Led into a darkly lit hall, filled with a collection of Dracula and Stoker memorabilia, eerie sounds echoed around us as we pushed back against the wall of Dracula movie posters.
From the startling entry of the first performer, it became clear the evening was to be interactive, theatrical and above all, entertaining. After leaving the hall of memorabilia and entering the castle proper, the thrills, jumps and laughter continued to escalate as we were lead one by one through what was effectively a house of fun/horror  into a seated performance area for more entertainment.
All of this was just preliminary as the main event was still to come. We entered into the graveyard, a theatre area surrounded by gravestones and gargoyles with seats facing the stage.  Once seated the show began and we were left in stitches by a hilarious performer who himself was covered in bandages.
A short interval with a welcome glass of red wine allowed us to explore the props around the graveyard, take photos with the performers and most importantly, inspect the wonderful and historically significant Bram Stoker and Dracula collection. Unfortunately, the interval was over all too quickly as we could have studied the keepsakes for so much longer!
A hush came over the audience as the Prince of Darkness took to the stage and the first job was to collect our lists of vampire abilities, the selection of which would dictate the events to come.  What followed left us spellbound with a magical performance and audience participation including our own Chris Rush which added to the authenticity of the act.
Was Castle Dracula what we expected? Absolutely not! A very cleverly put together attraction that does not rely on cheap scares or shock tactics to draw attention to itself and uses the novel and Bram Stoker himself as the guiding influence.  In much the same way as the Count himself, Castle Dracula mesmerizes with charm, enigma and enthralling entertainment.
Further details can be found at www.castledracula.ie and on Castle Dracula Facebook Page.

Ann Massey O’Regan
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