5:00pm, Sun 17 Mar 2013
And so it came to this: my final Festival show (of twenty-one) of 2013. The last Festival ticket that I bought this season, too – for some reason my interest in the work didn’t come until the first reviews were out. They mentioned the sombre mood of the piece, and that was enough to get me onboard.
But there’s sombre, and there’s torpor. And with little else onstage to attract – or distract – me, Nosferatu definitely exercised into the latter.
So let’s first focus on the positives: I wound up sitting next to new Festival Friend Helen (and her friend) in a freakish bit of Adelaideia. They were lovely to chat with. And our seats were pretty good, but it’s not like we were compelled to stick to our allocation: the Playhouse was probably only a quarter full. And the set was lovely – a wonderfully detailed house interior, dining and drawing room in one, with a few small sections used to indicate the outside world. The sound design was arrestingly moody. And the surtitles were spot-on, projected on surfaces within the set and remaining coherent and engaging.
As for the performance… “Inspired by Bram Stoker’s Dracula” claims the playbill, and I guess there’s hints of the themes we know and love in there. A clutch of brash youngsters bring their hedonism to a more serene (but still ostentatious) environment; beautiful girl gets nibbled and, after a period of near death, returns to life with a lascivious attitude. Everyone else slowly wanders around in a state of worry as tensions rise (mainly due to the brooding score).
But imagine that being delivered with blank faces and minimal movement… it’s an exercise in muscle minimalism. And, suffice to say, I found it terribly dull. I’ve had time to have had a good hard think about whether it was my typical malaise – after all, this was my hundred-and-fifty-fifth show in a month – or whether it was just genuinely slow, and my memory assures me that Nosferatu was, indeed, theatrical treacle.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) March 17, 2013