AMONG the rows of volumes in the basement of one of the world’s most famous bookshops, something evil lurks. Moving silently between the 160,000 books in Blackwell’s Norrington Room, a dark spirit eyes its prey: Count Dracula.

He is never seen, but always sensed; his spine-tingling presence just behind your shoulder.

“Never mind this cold weather, Dracula is the real Beast from the East,” says Lucy Askew, chief executive of Creation Theatre, which is staging a production of Bram Stoker’s gothic horror in the reading room of the Broad Street bookshop.

The cavernous space, with its three miles of shelving is an appropriate setting for this giant of literature.

“It’s a wonderful space and has a really creepy feel,” says Lucy. “It creates an incredible backdrop for theatre against a treasure trove of books on philosophy, theology and gender studies.”

Its mid-20th century design also allows the action to move beyond the standard Victorian Gothic setting and transported to the 1950s.

The story tells the tale of Jonathan Harker and his wife Mina, who are trying to solve the mystery surrounding the death of their friend Lucy Westenra.

Jonathan is suffering from the same strange illness since a trip to Transylvania – and, as they pack away Lucy’s possessions they piece together the events that lead to her death and the strange characters they encountered during her illness. Could the Count, whose sinister shadow hangs over their relationship, be to blame? Or does he event exist?

“By moving the setting we can make connections to an era when values were re-asserted, gender roles delineated, and people’s inner worlds repressed,” says Lucy.

“Jonathan and Mina have a sexually-repressed relationship and by the end we are not even sure whether Dracula happened to them or they are just going mad.”

With a cast of just two actors (Sophie Greenham as Mina and Christopher York as Jonathan), the Count himself is unseen, but, insists Lucy, he still has a central role – the vampire and his creatures of the night summoned up by clever use of light, sound and projections.

“There is no Dracula,” she says. “It’s very hard to put anyone on stage as the Count and get something new out of it. What’s more frightening is what you don’t see – the promise of something. And he is present in the room.

“Dracula exists in the shadows, in the clouds and swirling ink moving across the books and walls.”

She adds: “There are only two people but the cast feels bigger.”

The production is directed by Helen Tennison (who was also behind Creation’s acclaimed Alice, last summer) and adapted for the stage by award-winning writer Kate Kerrow, with costume and set design by Ryan Dawson Laight, sound by Matt Eaton, videography by Eva Auster and lighting by Ashley Bale.

The curtain goes up on Saturday, and runs until April 14.

“The one thing you can expect is the unexpected,” says Lucy. “Don’t expect a standard re-telling.”

Dracula is Creation’s fifth show at the bookshop since first staging Doctor Faustus in 2011. Transylvania’s finest follows in the footsteps of another rogue: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

“We love coming to Blackwell’s,” says Lucy. “It’s one of our favourite venues – it’s so cocooned away from the world. We return every other year and are always thinking about what to put on next.”

It follows their spooky re-telling of A Christmas Carol during the festive season.

“We are going through a bit of a dark phase right now,” laughs Lucy. “But in winter that’s what you want. That’s why we love ghost stories at Christmas. We love to wrap up, get into the warm and have a fright.”

While the show is aimed at families, it is not recommended for children under 12.

Lucy says: “It is creepy, but not disturbing... though we do scare ourselves sometimes!”

Dracula, Blackwell’s, Broad Street, Oxford, from Saturday to April 14. Tickets £12-£27 from 01865 766266 or