CLICK ON THE HYPERLINKED SONG TITLE TO HEAR THE SONG


OVERTURE 
followed by the 
DANCE PROLOGUE


(Two ghostly yet erotic tango dancers enter from different sides of the stage, meet center, and tango to “Tango de Ariel.”  At the end of the tango, they have danced nearly to the wings, then a black out one beat after the music ends; after the afterglow fades, they exit.  Eight beats later the oboe begins.)

(RENFIELD enters reading a large book with “Balkan Folk Tales” printed large on the cover.  He meanders, reading, then looks at the audience, is shocked to see them, and runs off frightened before the oboe ends,)

ACT I Scene 1
In the drawing room of the SEWARD family living quarters above the asylum.

 ALL--but VLAD—burst onto the stage singing 
"A Young and Foreign Nobleman")   
(Lights out on all but RENFIELD DL isolated in light. Amplified, we hear from offstage:)

VLAD
I come with good intentions.

(RENFIELD, astonished, looks up to hear this, looks up as if visited by an unseen saint, then runs off.)


ACT I Scene 2
In the drawing room

(LUCY attempts to teach HARKER the tango to the music of a scratchy gramophone recording.)

SEWARD
That decadent dance from the Argentine. 2nd Timothy, “Flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness.”

PERDITA
(without looking up from her book) Ecclesiastes Chapter 3, Verse 4, “...a time to weep and a tfime to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”


SEWARD
1st Corinthians 7, "It is good for a man not to touch a woman."

LUCY
Please, father.  It’s 1922.  How in the world could anyone sin in this isolated house under your watchful eye? 


PERDITA
(Interrupting to change the subject.)  When does your patient arrive, Father? 


LUCY
Is he really a Count?  True nobility coming here to the sanatorium?

SEWARD
As noble as they come.  His family goes back beyond the 14th century Balkans. Fought the Turks and kept them out of getting into Europe through the back door.  Inbreeding ever since, no doubt, isolated as they were in their mountain kingdom.

PERDITA
What is wrong with him precisely, father?

SEWARD
The diagnosis from my colleague in Vienna is porphyria which makes him allergic to sunlight.  He is anemic and extremely melancholic.  And an addict, I fear.

HARKER
A drug addict, you say?  In your home as a guest?

PERDITA
Byron, Keats, Shelley, they all took the pipe for inspiration.

LUCY
Some excitement at last at our boring little Bedlam.  When does he arrive?

SEWARD
Any time now.  Alert Hoskins and Brigid to see to his arrival.

(PERDITA rises to ring by pulling the bell pull, then returns to sit.)

LUCY
Aren’t you excited?  A Count!

PERDITA
Not so excited as you, I think.

HARKER
Just a pushover for a title, eh?  My wife-to-be swoons for nobility, does she?

LUCY
(Lucy playfully and seductively plops onto Harker’s lap.)
You’ve caught me being silly.  I loathe it when you catch me at indiscretions, and you always seem to.  I will have to be a most faithful wife—or at the very least a more discreet one!  Do you still love me in spite of my failings?!

HARKER
Every time she wants to smooth it over with me, she plays weak-willed and swoons into my arms.  I can only hope she continues to do so after we’re married,

(LUCY tugs at HARKER to get up.)

LUCY
Tango with me!
(They resume the dance lesson.)

PERDITA
You two!

SEWARD
I can only harbor a silent hope that you two will forego your antics in the presence of my patient, our guest.  He is not on display; he comes here for recuperation and treatment.
 
BRIGID
Yes, ma’am, someone rang?

PERDITA
Brigid, dear, please have supper when our guest arrives.

SEWARD
Brigid, do not be upset if he has a lack of appetite.  It is a symptom of his malady.

BRIGID
Miss Perdita, a word?

PERDITA
Yes, Brigid?

BRIGID
How do I address him, m'um?  Our new visitor?  

​PERDITA
Oh, dear.  Your lordship, I think. Is that right, father?

SEWARD
He is a count, and that’s the same as an earl. “M’lord” will suffice.

BRIGID
Thank you, sir.  I’ll see to his needs.

(Brigid exits.)

(RENFIELD enters, reading a large book, with the title “Balkan Folk Tales” which should be visible to the audience if possible.)

PERDITA
What is his lordship’s name, sir?

SEWARD
Count Voivod Vladimir Tepes (pr. Tepes) of Transylvania.

(RENFIELD screams and falls to his knees.  HOSKINS, hearing the scream, runs in.)

RENFIELD  
Miles and miles of bodies on stakes.  Impaled crosswise…through the ribs…up under the jaw…between the legs!  Noooooooo!

(All three speak nearly simultaneously)
SEWARD  In God’s name, Renfield!                  
PERDITA  Father! Why?
LUCY       Jonathan!?

HOSKINS
Steady there, y’ bugger!

SEWARD
Renfield, look at me—what has upset you so?

HOSKINS
He keeps screaming about “The Impaler.”  What’s an impaler, sir?

HARKER
Why, as if you were to run someone through with a pike and hang them up by it.

HOSKINS
Cor’blimey!

RENFIELD
It’s in the book!  It’s all in the book!

SEWARD
Calm yourself, my friend.  What book?

(RENFIELD scuttles on hands-and-knees to PERDITA’s side.)

RENFIELD: Miss Perdita, help me!  I sing the song like I was his poppet!

PERDITA: Whose song do you sing?

(RENFIELD sings 
"Cat on the Street")
...
(SEWARD injects RENFIELD with a sedative.)

RENFIELD: Now you push it in, but soon he’ll drain it out.

(RENFIELD slumps, all drop their guard, then RENFIELD leaps up and runs out with HOSKINS giving chase.)

SEWARD
(Calling after them) Get him to a safe room, and put him in restraints!  Unbelievable!  The injection should have knocked him flat.

LUCY
Restraints, father?  He’s always been so gentle.

PERDITA
Father, he seemed to be singing of some sort of god.

LUCY
Perhaps he was disturbed by the excitement around our new visitor.

SEWARD
We must be careful of what we allow him to read.  Many patients are prone to develop religious delusions.

(PERDITA rolls her eyes and sighs at her father’s religious obsession, then she looks toward LUCY who looks frightened.  PERDITA comforts LUCY as they exit.)


ACT I Scene 3
In the drawing room

(Brigid rolls in the drink cart.)

SEWARD
It seems like a good double malt might settle the nerves, eh, Harker?

BRIGID
Will the professor be joining us this evening, sir?

SEWARD
This time of day, I imagine our scholar is in his cups.

HARKER
(Pouring them drinks from the cart)
You have great forbearance, Dr. Seward. I am astonished at your retaining such a sot as Helsinger for Perdita and Lucy’s tutor.  And a German.  Sorry, I must ask. There is a bucket of ice here. You surely don’t wish to water down the aroma of this excellent whisky!

SEWARD
I have Brigid include it on the cart. Vincent prefers it. He took a sabbatical in America where he picked up the habit. It does lend something to the drink if you remove it before the ice dilutes the Scotch.  

HARKER
I can’t imagine. Amazing that you cater to his whims.

SEWARD
Not at all.  He is my friend and colleague, and I count us fortunate to have such a learned tutor for the girls. My late wife made me promise to provide a well-rounded education for the girls. Helsinger may be bit unorthodox, but then we do live above a madhouse. Perdita learns a great deal from him, and it will prepare her for the time when she may leave this sheltered world.  As to Lucy —well, you’ve chosen her to be your wife.

(HELSINGER enters, intoxicated; he has a German accent.)

HELSINGER
Doctor, sorry to disturb.  Have you seen my book of Balkan Folktales?  I swore I left it on my desk.  Perhaps the drink is affecting my memory.  Apologies, I am not fit for company.

SEWARD
Being in your cups doesn’t make you unwelcome.  Eat with us, it will do you good.

HELSINGER
You are so kind, but I prefer that Perdita (looks to HARKER)—and Lucy—not see their tutor in Dionysian disgrace too often.  Most fascinating book; frightening what monsters those people believe in, even to this day.  (To BRIGID) Bridey, mein Schatz, keep an eye out for my lost book, bitte.

(BRIGID exits, happy that HELSINGER has called her something that sounded sweet albeit in German.)

SEWARD
Preparing for our Transylvanian visitor, were you?

HELSINGER
Are we having visitors?

SEWARD
You mean this is coincidence? Amazing.

HELSINGER
I do not follow; please, have mercy on this drunken fool.

(HELSINGER sees HARKER at the drink cart.  He addresses SEWARD.)

A thousand pardons, do you think I could have a dram of that?

(HELSINGER drops ice into the glass, fills it, crosses to piano with drink.)

Let me play something to earn my whisky.   Something fitting for the setting of the sun? I am fond of that wonderful word you have, “the gloaming!”

(HELSINGER plays two measures of
Chopin’s Nocturne Op.9 No. 2.)`

Ach, sunset brings such melancholy!  Here is a drinking song I learned at your university I wager you know.

(SEWARD joins HELSINGER at the piano immediately.
HARKER hangs back and does not sing.)

(HELSINGER and SEWARD sing
 
"Pour the Ice in the Glass")

HELSINGER
Now, what is his name, the one who is coming

SEWARD
Voivod Vlad Tepes the Eighth, Dracul of Wallachia.

HELSINGER
Most daunting. His family is part of that dark history intermingled with those folk tales. If I could just lay my hands on that book…

(HELSINGER exits.)

SEWARD (calling after him) Join us for dessert, perhaps?
(to HARKER) Amazing coincidence about the book, wot, Harker?

HARKER
How did you come to know him?

SEWARD
He came as a patient for depression a little more than a year ago. He is a bit of a genius, a doctor of medicine and philosophy, but drink took its toll, and he ended up a lecturer at the school for young women. Regrettably, he was accused of indiscretion with a senior student. When I pressed him for the truth of it, he would only say that he would not impugn the young lady’s reputation by calling her a liar. We tried to wean him from the drink, but even after it was out of his system the depression got worse. Rather than send my daughters off to boarding school, I determined to have them schooled in the home and offered him the position of tutor.  I wanted them here so I could keep an eye on them…and him.  He has been a model of decorum with them.  Seems my patients often become part of the household; take Renfield for example---

HOSKINS
Doctor, your guest, err, patient has arrived. Sir, begging your pardon to speak the truth, but the poor man looks a wraith.

SEWARD
Harker, shall we greet this provocative visitor?

(SEWARD and HARKER exit.)


ACT I Scene 4
At the front door of the Seward residence
(Cross fade to knock on the door. No one answers.  A second knock. Brigid enters to answer it.)

BRIGID
(To herself) Where is that worthless Johnny Bull?  It’s his job to answer—
(LUCY scurries in and intercepts Brigid.)

LUCY
I’ll get it!

BRIGID
But, ma’am, I should—
(Brigid pauses with a worried look, then exits).

LUCY
(LUCY opens the door to VLAD who is backlit which shows a dark figure that startles LUCY).
Oh!

VLAD
I am Vlad Tepes.

LUCY
(She curtsies)
You are most welcome, your Lordship.  I am Lucy Seward. We have been eagerly anticipating your arrival.

(VLAD avoids looking at Lucy.)

VLAD
So kind of you to greet me.  I was expecting a servant to answer the door.

LUCY
I was eager—uhhh—I thought a member of the household should greet such a distinguished gentleman.

(VLAD walks with a cane—preferably a fashionable walking stick with a fierce animal’s head [wolf or eagle] as the handle.)

VLAD
May I sit? It was a long journey, and I am easily wearied.

LUCY
I fear I have forgotten my manners.
(They move from the hall into the drawing room. LUCY attempts to assist him into the sitting room, but he holds up a hand to stop her.)
You are the first noble personage to visit here.

(SEWARD and PERDITA enter, followed by HARKER)

SEWARD
My dear Count, apologies for not greeting you.

LUCY
Hoskins and Brigid were otherwise occupied so I played butler and hostess, father.

SEWARD
Allow me to present my other daughter Perdita as well as Lucy’s fiancé Jonathan Harker, Esquire.  The Right Honorable Vladimir Tepes, Count of Wallachia and Transylvania.

(VLAD looks at PERDITA, turns quickly downstage with a look of fearful astonishment, then he turns back still averting his eyes.
PERDITA is taken with VLAD, and curtsies deeply.  The others look surprised at this.
Helsinger enters, doing his best to act sober, and is astonished to see PERDITA curtseying.)

SEWARD
Here is my friend and colleague and my daughters’ tutor, Dr. Vincent Helsinger -- Count Dracul.  Sit and rest.  Our cook is preparing a light supper.

VLAD
Please, no fuss for me.

PERDITA
You’ve had a long journey and need refreshment.

HELSINGER
You are from the Carpathians?  I have studied you…your forbears, I mean--and your country’s history and folklore. Are you a vampire like they say?

(Spoken in unison in protest against HELSINGER’s bad manners)
SEWARD     Vincent!                             
PERDITA     Professor!                
HARKER     Sir!
                                           
VLAD
(Laughs) Yes, indeed I am, sir, in so many ways, I fear.  And you?

HELSINGER
(Wryly) Well, I have bled the life energy out of myself.  Do you reside in your mountain kingdom?

VLAD
No, I have an estate in Argentina. I went there once a long time ago on an expedition into the jungle which I funded, and they let me tag along. I have been many other places, but I always return there.  It is an enchanting country with many interesting creatures.

SEWARD
The Argentine, you say?! No!

HELSINGER
Isn’t that where…?

PERDITA
I was born there. I was orphaned. The doctor and his wife rescued me and gave me a home.

VLAD
I am no stranger to coincidence.

PERDITA
But I know much about the place and the animals you speak of--the capybara, the worlds’ largest rodent, the pampas cat, the maned wolf, the very venomous yarará pit viper...

VLAD
Very good, senorita!

LUCY
(Whispers) Show off!

HELSINGER
And Desmodus rotundus?

VLAD
(Pause) Yes, the vampire bat.  Sucked on the toes of sleeping sailors.  Often rabid, I fear.

LUCY
And the tango!  Do you tango, Count?

VLAD
The dance where the thighs touch.  I am surprised a refined lady is familiar with it.

HARKER
Lucy is attempting to teach me the dance, m’Lord, poor girl.

HELSINGER
Dracul.   I have read that translates to “the dragon,” or --

VLAD
--“the Devil.” Yes.  The Order of the Dragon founded by the Holy Roman Emperor to fight the Turkish invasion.  My family did demonic things to frighten the devil out of the Turks and chase the invaders out of my Wallachia.

LUCY
Devilish things?  Please, tell us!

PERDITA
My sister is an aficionado of the Gothic, Count Dracul.

LUCY
The grotesque often reveals the subconscious, isn’t that right, Professor?

HELSINGER
There is much to learn from the dark side, my dear.
(to VLAD) Your ancestral name Tepes means “The Impaler.”

VLAD
“The Impaler.” Yes, we carry the shame of that unfortunate name.

LUCY
Impaler?!  Renfield was raving—
(Perdita looks at LUCY to stifle her near faux pas, and LUCY changes the subject mid-sentence.)
Err, what did your ancestors do to the Infidel?

VLAD
It is a sad and fearsome story.  Doctor, is it permissible?

SEWARD
If it doesn’t disturb you to tell it…

(VLAD sings 
In a Kingdom”)

SEWARD
A fine voice, sir.

LUCY
Fascinating. You are a troubadour!

HELSINGER
You and I must discuss the ways of the Carpathian people.

SEWARD
But for now, my guest must retire for his health.

VLAD
Thank you, sir.  However, I don’t sleep well at night. Would you permit me to wander about your home?

SEWARD
Of course!

LUCY
You would find it warmer in the arboretum, m’lord.

HELSINGER
Often I’m awake also through the night.  Visit me anytime.

VLAD
Thank you for that invitation. I sense that it will be a meaningful visit.

(BRIGID enters.)

BRIGID
If it please you, supper is—-
(BRIGID stops mid-sentence and turns to look at VLAD who has been out of her sight line, she goes pale. VLAD looks at her and cocks his head.)
---served.

 
ACT I Scene 5

in HELSINGER’s study

HELSINGER
And now our poetry game. Lucy, a verse or two, please.

LUCY
(Reads:)
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.
The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he's a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he's to setting.

HELSINGER
Perdita…the title?

PERDITA
“To the Virgins, to make much of time.”

HELSINGER
The poet?

PERDITA
Robert Herrick. 1591–1674

LUCY
I read that he was an ordained minister!

HELSINGER
(Laughs) Lovely ladies, do not be fooled by power or position.  Whatever cloak or robe he dons, man is always naked underneath.  Perdita?

PERDITA
(From memory, referring only briefly to the book.)
Titan! to whose immortal eyes
The sufferings of mortality
Seen in their sad reality,
Were not as things that gods despise
What was thy pity's recompense?
A silent suffering, and intense;
The agony they do not show,
The suffocating sense of woe,
Which speaks but in its loneliness.

LUCY
Lord Byron?

HELSINGER
And the title?

LUCY
Umm….I’m sorry.

PERDITA
Prometheus, who brought fire to man.  The gods punished him by tying him to a rock where an eagle each day would rip out and eat his liver---which grew back the next day—and the eagle would come again for eternity.

LUCY
How gruesome. I adore it!

PERDITA
As I suspected you would.  Dr. Helsinger compares him to Lucifer.

LUCY
To Lucifer?

PERDITA
Prometheus was punished by the gods for bringing fire to man…like the serpent in the garden who brought the fiery light of knowledge to Eve.   The snake is often confused with the fallen angel Lucifer whose name means bringer of light.

LUCY
I’ll always remember that.  Lucy…Lucy-fer!

PERDITA
(Laughs) Lucy, my sweet, sweet sister, you definitely light up every room you enter!

HELSINGER
You make me proud. You are such a clever student--students.  That is enough for today, no?

(LUCY and PERDITA rise to leave.
PERDITA goes up to Helsinger, and shyly tells him:)

PERDITA
I just wanted to thank you again.  I have learned so much in the last year from you.

(HELSINGER is abashed and laughs, averting his eyes.  Then looks at her and they smile at one another.  His averts his eyes again.  PERDITA crosses toward LUCY to exit.
Lucy shakes her head and rolls her eyes at PERDITA to tease her about flirting with Helsinger.   HELSINGER watches her as she leaves.
Helsinger frantically pours himself a drink—with ice.)

HELSINGER
No, no, no, not again.  Never again.  You will not violate your friend’s trust.

(HELSINGER looks to where they exited, smiles longingly, takes a long breathe, and sighs.)

(HELSINGER sings 
“Blossom”)

Helsinger finishes his drink, hangs his head, sighs.


Continue to Act I Scene 6 to Intermission  



TIME: 1922, Winter
PLACE: An asylum in Northern England on the coast of the Northern Sea
SETTINGS:
The living quarters for the doctor’s family above an asylum--a cheerful British home.
Drawing room
Helsinger’s Study
Arboretum
Hallway
Scenes between Vlad and Renfield are played on the apron.


CHARACTERS (3 women, 6 men)
BRIGID - 30s, Irish cook and maid—and more.
HOSKINS  - 30s, Cockney butler and part-time orderly, large, strapping
JONATHAN HARKER - 40s, barrister-at-law, engaged to Lucy fashionable man- about-town, soldierly, stiff-upper-lip. 
LUCY SEWARD– 18, granddaughter of Seward, modern and fatuous,
MORTIMER SEWARD, M.D. - 60s, proprietor of the asylum, religious. 
PERDITA SEWARD - 19, Hispanic adopted daughter of Seward, brilliant, serious 
RENFIELD  - 40s, a long-time patient and trustee, weak, Uriah Heepish, bald with   surgical scars on his cranium, 
VINCENT HELSINGER, Ph. D. - mid-40s, a German scholar and tutor to Lucy and   handsome, wasted, a depressed alcoholic. 
VLAD TEPES - late 20s in appearance, Romanian, Count of Wallachia and Transylvania, wan and pale to begin, increasingly healthy as the story progress, growing very muscular, large, and ruddy by Finale/reprise.    
(DIALECTS: British Received unless specified otherwise above.)​​​




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