Soaring property prices, greedy real estate agents, unscrupulous foreign buyers, biosecurity threats, pretentious environmental concerns, are being played out with nudity, violence, homophobia and horror in 95 minutes in Newtown.
NOSFERATU : A FRACTURED SYMPHONY commands attention through strong acting performances and plot entanglement with one of the most iconic films of the silent era, Murnau’s 1922 film of the same name. It is this link which adds historical and literary depth to a seemingly contemporary story.
The historical perspective commences through an offstage interview with a University of Western Sydney academic about the original English novel and German film. On stage we meet a young urban same sex married couple in a monotonal minimalist angular set recounting their environmental credentials.
One of the couple (Lulu Howes), works in real estate whilst her wife (Lucy Burke), is in digital publishing. Sent by her Negroni swilling boss (Annie Stafford), to a rural retreat to meet the Count (Jeremi Campese), she enters deep into a nightmare world.
Whilst the early part of the play has plenty of humour, her travels into the rural area introduce homophobic and more violent undertones. At this stage dream sequence elements begin to appear more strongly enhanced by a dark musical score. There is a confronting toilet scene as the foreign buyer, ‘Count Orlock’(the vampire, Dracula, Nosferatu) tries to form a business partnership with the young real estate salesperson.
Light parodies of older age women and of the “Where the Bloody Hell Are You” advertisement are welcome light relief in a dark account of this world. Also lifting the mood momentarily was the use of some quirky clever elements of the set design.
All performers capably display a range of emotion. Lulu Howes’s versatile eyes shone intensely throughout her journey. Annie Stafford balanced superficiality with intensity and purpose. Lucy Burke bounced through sexy, naïve, bureaucratic and caring effortlessly, whilst Jeremi Campese convinced us that he was uncaring, invincible and dangerous physically and personally.
The whole design, sound, lighting and production team of Saro Lusty-Cavallari, Director; Imogen Gardam, Producer; Victor Kalka, Designer; Justin Gardam, Composer and Sound Designer; and Veronique Bennett, Lighting Design, executed their concept admirably.
The use of fragments of the original film’s wording in a corner of the set’s backdrop were interesting, at times hard to read, and whilst adding style, did not greatly enhance understanding or the message. The final flashes of scenes presumably from the original film added a nice touch as it’s mentioned that the character “cannot believe it was … a dream”. Organ music defines the end, and the audience exits to ‘The Monster Mash’.
Montague Basement is to be congratulated for selecting such a fine energetic cast and matching them with sound and lighting to present such a rich bloodthirsty delicacy of Australian theatre.
Nosferatu: A Fractured Symphony is on at Old 505 Theatre, 5 Eliza Street, Newtown. 8pm Tuesday – Saturday until 19 January 2019. Tickets: $45 Premium Adults* / $40 Adults / $30 Concession, Industry & Under 30