What do you get when you combine classical music, a classic horror story and the much-loved science fiction genre? A strange combination, you might just say, but in the case of Bowjangles: Dracula in Space, it just works.
String quartet Bowjangles are no strangers to the Fringe, having won ‘Spirit of the Fringe’ with their previous show Excalibow back in 2018. As they proudly proclaim, they are genre spanners, taking everything you might know about string quartets and flipping it completely and utterly on its head. Yes, they can play classical, and play it extremely well, but they play much more than that, and have filled this hilarious madcap show with original songs, comedy, physical theatre and dance.
With Mitch McGugan and Ollie Izod on violin, Ezme Gaze on cello and Bertie Anderson Haggart on viola, Bowjangles take us on an adventure. Determined to reinvent themselves and explore the world of corporate after dinner entertainment, they become the first quartet in space (through an extremely catchy song). There they receive an offer of help from the mysterious Dr A Cula (played by Anderson Haggart), who wants to make them superstars and claims that she wants nothing in return. But when flight captain (first violin) Mitch starts to act strangely, it’s up to Ezme and Ollie to save the day and save the group.
What follows is a wonderfully silly hour of comedy, music, and dance, complete with puns, wigs and frivolity, performed by a cast who don’t take themselves too seriously. There’s breaking of the fourth wall, references to the groups past fringe experiences and a brilliant openness. Through silly jokes such as a want to get rid of the viola player and ‘there’s a very good reason why you can’t be in this next scene Ollie’, they laugh at the fact that four people have to play multiple characters and with it all they laugh just as much as the audience do. It's a shared experience.
The music skips merrily from classical in style to power ballads, celebrations of female empowerment and even references to Gary Barlow. There’s something for everyone and from start to end, everyone is loving it. It is clear that the cast are incredibly good friends, and that they are enjoying it just as much as the audience. There are moments that have the audience doubling over with laughter, a true celebration of the story that Bowjangles have created and the finale is met with rapturous applause.
You can walk into Bowjangles: Dracula in Space not knowing what to expect and walk out with the brightest smile on your face, and if you look around you’ll probably find people buying the CD (remember those) of Excalibow, even though they might not actually own a CD Player. All I want to know is if the quartet returns to the fringe next year, will we be able to purchase the CD of Dracula in Space, because I really need to hear those songs again.