Adelaide Festival: Nosferatu

Nosferatu. Photographer Stefan Okolowicz
Nosferatu. Photographer Stefan Okolowicz

The final theatrical production of the 2013 Adelaide Festival was the Warsaw based TR Warszawa Company’s production of Nosferatu, adapted and directed by Grzegorz Jarzyna. The play was performed in Polish with English surtitles.

Theatre requires some effort on the part of the audience. That effort need be no more than the simple suspension of disbelief for the length of the performance or, generally, relative silence. Only then can a play be effectively judged as good, mediocre, badly staged, horribly written or poorly performed, something truly exceptional and thought-provoking or something best forgotten as quickly as possible.

Sometimes it’s the audience members who need to be forgotten as quickly as possible. Perhaps it was because this is a foreign language show and attracted ex-patriots looking for a “hit” from the mother-land or perhaps some people are simply rude but this show seemed dotted with audience members unfamiliar with the etiquettes of the theatre – not that there are many, but checking messages on your mobile phone and holding back (read as ‘snorting with’) laughter at inappropriate moments throughout the performance isn’t rocket science.

No one should have been bored or had any legitimate right to laugh at histrionics as this show was superbly performed in every way including dramatically and with some great and incisively comic one-liners.

The show begins effectively with a thunder-clap and a black out. The set, a room in a mansion, was quite wonderful. Excellent use was made of large windows, which accentuated the drama using flowing white curtains and effective lighting with the ambient sound and scrim work producing an appropriate sense of the ethereal. The Polish language offers an immediate awareness that this is something of “the other” and adds a feeling of ancient, Eastern European culture.

[pull_left]Nothing here is unnerving except the invitation to look into one’s own precious soul.[/pull_left]Nosferatu, in all its manifestations, is a strange and compelling tale. Not only is it a classic horror story but it also affords us, especially in this adaptation, the ability to relate the drama on stage to the reality and concepts within our own culture and life choices. A photographer character enunciated the nature of the paparazzi but also allowed the audience to reflect on more individual notions concerning the ruthless pursuit of a career and the search for self-gratification in the modern world. Nothing here is unnerving except the invitation to look into one’s own precious soul.

Cezary Kosinki is divine in the title role, more solemnly Max Schreck than anything Twilight.

An ensemble cast including Sandra Korzeniak, Katarzyna Warnke, Wolfgang Michael, Jan Englert, Jan Frycz, Krzysztof Franieczek, Marcin Hycnar, Lech Łotocki and Adam Woronowicz perform their roles superbly.

Jarzyna has had a long time to hone this play as it has made its way around the world and Adelaide has received the full benefit of his time and expertise.

This is David Sefton’s final theatrical production for the 2013 Adelaide Festival. His first Festival as Artistic Director ends with the same bang Nosferatu begins, and to take from the film Amadeus – you’ve got to give them a big bang at the end so they know when to clap.

One thought on “Adelaide Festival: Nosferatu

  • Oh pleeease. This was an amateur level production with one outstanding performance. Poorly lit and staged. It was a couple of nice theatrical moments in a whole that seemed forced and truly excruciating in parts.


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