Nosferatu is a darkly atmospheric piece of fun brought to this year’s Edinburgh International Children’s Festival by French company Bob Theatre.
There are bulbs of garlic hanging from the walls and the smell of incense wafts through the air as the audience enters the dim recesses of Traverse 2 to find two men, looking sinister in their all-black garb, sitting at either end of a long, narrow table. To ramp up the eerie mood a notch or two, each is sucking on a bone in sombre silence.
Once the packed house has settled, the fairground music playing in the background recedes and the mournful tones of a cello begin to rise. The two men stand. One very tall and lumbering, the other shorter and bald, they, perhaps deliberately, vaguely resemble Lurch and Uncle Fester of the Addams Family. Fester lifts the lid on the requisite silver platter sat at the centre of the table to reveal a steaming pile of bones.
The scene is set then for the spooky tale of Nosferatu to unfold. Following the plot of the 1922 German expressionist horror film of the same name, it is essentially a version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. When a young estate agent, Hutter, ignores his wife Ellen’s warning and travels to Transylvania to sign a deal with Count Orlock, he discovers that Orlock is in fact the vampire Nosferatu. It’s probably not a spoiler to say that things don’t end well for any of them.
Taking turns to narrate the story, Denis and Julien (both writers and directors as well as performers) are helped along the way by a few electrical appliances. The hapless Hutter and poor, doomed Ellen are depicted by large round light bulbs with faces drawn on and a bunch of blenders and a hoover also play their parts. Needless to say, such devices lighten the mood (in more ways than one) and along with little touches like Orlock found sleeping not in a coffin but a chest freezer, the theme of plug-in items, as well as humour, is extended. On the other hand, different lighting effects are also cleverly used to build the suspense
The pace does flag a bit at times, but all in all this little piece of theatre, though aimed primarily at 8-13 year olds, has enough about it to keep those rather older on the edge of their seats.
Runs 1st – 3rd June