In the middle of Sydney’s peak theatre season, Nosferatutu is just the kind of silly, madcap fun a dramaphile needs. It’s a cabaret/play hybrid about vampires and ballet and pursuing your dream, with a soundtrack that skips from David Bowie to Daryl Braithwaite, via Tina Turner.
We commence with a faux show: a one-man Swan Lake danced by a pretty young Russian in tights. We quickly move to a murder on the dancefloor, as the real hero of the piece reveals himself: Kevin (played by Tommy Bradson), an ancient vampire whose passion for ballet and blood have rather carried him away.
Besides being a ballet-loving vampire called Kevin, our protagonist is endearing in other ways: he’s as young of heart as he is old of tooth, and he has a verbal talent when it comes to self-deprecation: “You are ‘bronze medal’, Kevin,” he says to himself in one of his more self-lacerating moments. “You are the unwelcome uncle at the birthday barbecue … you are the right-wing megalomaniac fuelling arts funding debates.” (In fact, there’s some deliciously absurd and intricate imagery conjured up by Bradson’s writing throughout).
Despite this, Kevin proceeds to take over the stage, first with a series of confessional monologues, and then (with the help of the ‘usher’ – Sheridan Harbridge) in his own version of Swan Lake. As the show progresses, you realise that Kevin is living his dream, fulfilling his potential – for the first time in his centuries-old existence. It’s sweet.
Nosferatutu is full of joy and madness, metatheatricality and genre in-jokes (a Billy Elliotquote gets a laugh from audience members in the know). On one level it’s nonsense and hijinks, on another it’s deconstructing theatre, the the vampire and dance genres, storytelling, even gender. If you have a sacred cow, the show wants to slay it (and drink its blood).
Bradson and Harbridge have good comic chemistry, even if their vocal timbres are mismatched (he’s a sort of soft and dusky cabaret croon, she’s clear, bright and even operatic at points in the show).
There’s something beguiling about a show that’s so ostensibly ‘rough and ready’ and theatrically ‘basic’, but at the same time has a three-person live ensemble of musicians on stage, and tee-shirts on sale in the Griffin foyer. There’s a lot of love and care in this piece, and Bradson and Harbridge leave nothing on the field.