THE dark nights of January are about to become a little darker as Bram Stoker’s Dracula takes to Abergavenny Borough Theatre’s stage.

The Victorian classic that sees Professor Van Helsing and his many allies, pit their wits against the most infamous of vampires, sees Abergavenny Theatre Group (ATG), turn to more serious and thought-provoking theatre following two successful comedy farces.

The play will also provide opportunities for those interested to see a real live bat, enjoy some bat-themed drinks at the bar and a free gift for those who arrive in gothic dress.

Stoker’s novel has been adapted to the stage by author Fiona Angwin and sees the addition of one or two forgotten characters.

"I have always loved Dracula but I have often felt in many play adaptions the human aspect of the tale can be lost," said Ms Angwin, who is also directing the play for ATG.

"For me, the story is about love and friendship and how its power will overcome any adversity.

"While there are undoubtedly some disturbing scenes as depicted in the book, it is my hope that audiences will not just enjoy a good scare but leave the play inspired by a story of hope." 

As well as a published author (with works that include the modern fantasy novel Soul Lights and the more recent Manx Tales) Ms Angwin is a licensed bat-worker and is one of the few people in the country that wildlife organisations turn to for her expertise.

This, she explained, is one of the reasons; she wanted to also take the opportunity to educate audiences with one of the bats in her care.

"Unfortunately because of Dracula, bats have often had a bad reputation for being rather scary," Ms Angwin explained.

"So I’d quite like to redress the balance. I would like people to have the opportunity to see that they are fascinating, vulnerable and likable creatures.

"However, I don’t want to alarm any theatre-goers who may have phobias, so I’m bringing some flightless bats which we will house in the top area away from the auditorium so only those who wish to see them will," she added.

ATG stalwart Les Hayes takes the title role among more than a dozen other cast members, including one or two new faces as the group’s membership continues to grow.

Group chairman Rob Tollman explained that following the success of Black Comedy and Inspector Drake’s Last Case, ATG members were keen to take on a different challenge with a serious, darker-themed production.

To highlight this, audiences at the Borough’s Welcome to Christmas show last month were treated to a five-minute prequel of the play. 

"It has been a very different challenge for our members but one which we have all relished," he said.

"What has always attracted me to ATG is the diversity of the people and the performances we put on. 

“In this case, we want to get our audiences feeling and thinking as opposed to laughing. It is clear to me from a number of strong performances witnessed in rehearsals we will achieve that."

• Dracula will be on stage from 7.30pm on Thursday, Jan 28, Friday, Jan 29 and Saturday, Jan 30. Tickets cost £8.50 (£7.50 concessions) and the age guidance for this production is 14+.

Tickets are available from the Borough Theatre box office on 01873 850805 or at their website