The play’s prologue is delivered by Renfield, who at first is well-dressed and erudite, but soon reveals himself as a madman.
The play begins with lifelong friends Mina and Lucy sharing secrets about the men in their lives. Mina is engaged to be married to Jonathan Harker, a solicitor who is away on a business trip in the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania. Lucy reveals that she has had three separate marriage proposals and doesn’t know which one to accept.
One of Lucy’s suitors, Dr. Seward, comes to call and divulges his deep feelings for her, but she sweetly rebuffs him and, to distract him from heartache, he turns to his work of unlocking the mystery of Renfield’s lunacy. Meanwhile, Harker’s letters to Mina depict, at first, Count Dracula and Transylvania as exciting and mysterious, but later become nightmarish and fearful. Eventually he stops writing.
It is then that Mina begins to notice Lucy’s behavior has become strange and worrisome and sends for Dr. Seward to make a diagnosis. He is unsure of what might be the problem, but finds an unusual mark on her neck. Lucy has no memory of her strange actions and becomes deathly ill over the course of just a few days.
Dr. Seward has an odd encounter with someone who says he is Harker, but Mina discovers Harker is actually in a hospital in Budapest. She goes to him and finds him deeply changed and traumatized. He tells her he cannot remember what happened to him but that the secret lies in his journal, if she feels she must know.
Lucy’s health becomes worse, so Dr. Seward sends for his friend and mentor, Abraham Van Helsing. He recognizes the mark on her neck as vampire bites, but keeps the information to himself. He gives Lucy a life-saving blood transfusion from Dr. Seward.
Mina brings Harker home to recover. She and Van Helsing read his journal and discover that Dracula hypnotized him to do his bidding while in Transylvania. It also reveals how Dracula stole Harker’s identity to further his purpose of securing a new location in London.
Fortunately Harker makes a full recovery, and Lucy is brought to the asylum for protection. Renfield begs Seward to let him out of the asylum, claiming he is cured from insanity. He also fears his “master” and his plan and he tries to warn the others. Later, Van Helsing finally delineates his theory of vampires and the Un-Dead, into which, tragically, Lucy has been fully transformed. Van Helsing tells Dr. Seward and Harker what they must do to rid her soul of this darkness: drive a stake through her heart and sever her head. He also cautions them of the “strange and terrible days ahead.”
Now in England, Dracula begins to wreak unrest on the citizens of London, including Mina. But can Van Helsing, Dr. Seward, and Harker locate Dracula and destroy him in time to save other souls? Is Renfield really as sane as he says? Can Mina resist the same horrible fate as Lucy and finally be married to Harker, putting this ghastly experience behind them?