Well, luckily for you, the truly inventive Silent Theatre Company, a production house dedicated to doing theatre in the style of cinema’s pre-sound classics, is keeping the Halloween and the fall season alive a little longer with their bewitching take on Nosferatu.
F.W. Murneau’s silent 1922 masterpiece Nosferatu was adapted from Bram Stoker’s most famous tale, but with one huge difference. As opposed to the seductive and handsome persona that most people assign to their Dracula characterizations, here he is truly a bald and hideous creature of the night. The story, while familiar, is also more compact in Murneau’s hands. Following course, Brendon Balfe adapts this tale with straightforward flourishes and one surprise twist.
Hutter, an estate apprentice, sets out for Transylvania to arrange lodging for the mysterious Count Orlock in Wisborg, Germany. But upon meeting Orlock, Hutter wishes he had taken heed of the warnings made by the distraught villagers he had encountered on his journey. Orlock is a nocturnal, blood seeking monstrosity with enormously seductive powers. Orlock’s connection with Ellen, Hutter’s wife, may be the most troubling aspect of the affair, though. As Orlock is determined to possess her, will Ellen make the ultimate sacrifice to save Hutter and the people of Wisborg?
As director, Balfe works well within the shadows and haunted avenues of this tale. He is aided by Victor Holstein’s video dialogue projections, Chloe Honeyman-Bloede’s stark lighting scheme and Diane Hamm’s strict yet appropriately elegant costuming. All relish the old school flair of the piece and their enthusiasm truly makes this one of the more unique theater offerings currently running.
Meanwhile, despite appearing under the layers of Glenese Hand’s truly grotesque make-up design, Nick Leininger is able to bring a twisted humanity and powerful anguish to his Orlock. Through his skills, Leninger makes Orlock’s seduction of Ellen one of the most disturbing yet highly erotic sequences ever committed to the stage.
Nosferatu runs through November 23 at the Prop Thtr, 3502 N. Elston, in Chicago. Tickets are $15-$20 and can be purchased by visiting silenttheatre.com.
– Brian Kirst