by Grzegorz Jarzyna inspired by Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula..
Barbican Theatre Silk Street EC2Y 8DS To 3 November 2012.
Runs 1hr 50min No interval.
TICKETS: 0844 243 0785.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 1 November.
Brilliantly-presented exploration of tedium that runs the obvious risk.
With a theatre programme called BITE, the Barbican might well have had a hand in commissioning this production from Poland’s TR Warszawa and Teatr Narodowy. Adapter/director Grzegorz Jarzyna, responsible for the modern Shock and Awe Macbeth: 2008 which visited Edinburgh this year, creates an equally large but very different space. The spacious room where lives are languidly lived around tables and on sofas, with speculations on scientific advances, creates a world like updated Chekhov, even if the intense cawing outside suggests a full-throated avian warm-up for Hitchcock’s The Birds.
Only a young man keenly photographing his girlfriend provides activity; the first sign of intrusion. She soon wanders into the woods, returning with talk of a lion. It’s then fog seeps in. According to a programme note, this is the first, amorphous manifestation of Nosferatu, before bored human minds give him shape.
With more light it might be possible to gain an insight from the very interesting programme while waiting for something to happen onstage. Draculas fall into two categories: the camp ‘fangs can only get better’ and profound political, psychological, sexual investigations. There are a few visceral moments here – one attack possibly influenced by Tomas Alfredson’s 2008 film Let the Right One In – but mostly it works among the depths, leaving even those to implications as the room is gradually denuded, civilisation becoming defunct.
But a Dracula show round Hallowe’en will pick-up an audience with different expectations; not since the Royal Shakespeare Company presented David Rudkin’s Hansel and Gretel over Christmas and, despite suitability warnings, had parents shielding youngsters’ eyes from the horrors, have I sensed an audience whose expectations were being so severely unmet.
It’s beautifully set and atmospherically lit, with shadows, shafts of piercing light, billowing curtains and suggestions of intruding figures. It might have been an installation. Or, – as with Einstein on the Beach or the Roman Tragedies at the Barbican – audiences might have been encouraged to leave and re-enter. Here, those who went stayed out.
Anyone prepared for this show’s demands will find dramatic rewards. But the demands are severe; the entertainment not easy.
Nosferatu: Wolfgang Michael.
Lucy Westenta: Sandra Korzeniak.
Mina Harker: Katarzyna Warnke.
Abraham van Helsing: Jan Frycz.
Dr John Seward: Jan Englert.
Renfield: Lech Lotocki.
Arthur Holmwood: Adam Woronowicz.
Jonathan Harker: Marcin Hycnar.
Quincey Morris: Krzystof Franieczek.
Ensemble: Jacek Telenga.
Director: Grzegorz Jarzyna.
Designer/Costume: Magdalena Maciejewska.
Lighting: Jacqueline Sobiszewski.
Sound: Piotr Domiński.
Music: John Zorn.
Video: Bartek Macias.
Special Effects/Make-up: Waldemar Pokromski.
Dramaturg: Rita Czapka.