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Festival Review: Nosferatu

Nosferatu_TR_Warszawa_and_Teatr_Narodowy_Adelaide_Festival_mediumPresented by TR Warszawa and Teatr Narodowy
Reviewed Thursday 14th March 2013

Bram Stoker’s famous Gothic horror story, Dracula, adapted and directed by Grzegorz Jarzyna, is brought to life, if one can actually use that term when referring to the living dead, in an intense, modernised rendition.

Nosferatu was actually the title of the 1922 film based on Stoker’s tale and directed by F. W. Murnau. As the studio could not get the rights to the book, the title and all of the characters’ names were changed. The characters in this play take the original names. The ending of this production, though, is almost the same as the film, not the book. In the context of the approach taken to this production, that ending seems to work better than Stoker’s ending might have done.

Facial expressions and body language reign in this production. This is not a simplistic tale of a fiend biting a neck and drinking blood. It is a complex and deeply psychological drama, where the vampire is called by the victim. The sexual tension that is created and builds between Count Dracula and the two women, first Lucy Westenra and, later, Mina Harker, comes in to being as they stand metres apart on the stage. It is palpable, as are the very different emotional encounters between him and Professor Van Helsing.

The production delves into the human psyche, suggesting that there is a vampire within each of us, as well as a potential victim.

The production is staged in an open space, multi-function room, but we feel that something is not right beyond the walls of that one safe area. Everything contributes to the success of this production, from the light breeze blowing the curtain, through to the ever-present, often eerie music by American composer John Zorn, the sound effects, and the superbly crafted lighting. The direction is acute and precise, and the timing and pace impeccable.

It is the acting, though, that is crucial to this work, and that is superb across the board, from the mad and, eventually, suicidal Renfield, Lech Łotocki, to the driven vampire hunter Van Helsing, Jan Frycz, and to the vampire himself, Cezary Kosinski, and the two women, Lucy, Sandra Korzeniak, and Mina, Katarzyna Warnke. Jan Englert, Krzysztof Franieczek, Marcin Hycnar, Wolfgang Michael, and Adam Woronowicz complete this very talented and magnificent cast.

Everything ends on Sunday, so get tickets to this marvellous production, if you can.

In Polish with English surtitles. Recommended for ages 18+. Contains nudity, strong adult themes and violence, haze effects, smoking on stage, and smoke effects.

Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.

Adelaide Festival page

Company web site

Venue: Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Road, Adelaide
Season: to 17th March 2013
Duration: 1hr 45mins no interval
Tickets: $30 to $69
Bookings: BASS 131 246 or here

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