Last year I wrote that UVU’s growing theater department hit puberty with their production of Canyon Suite in December. Nosferatu, however, proves that the awkward stage is over.
Theater is essentially storytelling, and in Nosferatu, director Christopher Clark approached the art’s basic function in a way seldom seen in theatrical nuclei like New York or San Francisco — much less in Happy Valley.
The play is not simply based on F.W. Murnau’s silent movie, produced in Germany in 1922. It is a re-creation of it. Spoken dialogue is replaced by words on a screen. The movements of the actors are bewitchingly reminiscent of the gestures of genuine silent movie stars. The makeup, costuming and staging will bring back to you an art form so lost your grandparents probably don’t remember it.
The behavior of the cast and crew is surprisingly mature. The show is full of dozens of costume, set, and scene changes, and on opening night none of those cues were noticeably missed. No one wasted the audience’s time groping for the spotlight, and each member of the cast and crew performed their tasks almost pristinely.
If you’re looking to be scared, you might just reach your goal. Tomas Ferlund as the vampirish Count Orlock plays a serene villain, moving slowly and staring deeply.
At one point in the show, I felt that he was looking directly at me, reaching toward me with those eerily long fingernails you might have seen in pictures at Campus Connection or outside the Reagan. Ferlund’s continuous intensity is laudable.
Be sure to bring some extra cash, because after the show you can purchase a picture of yourself with Count Orlock for $5-$10.
The cast as a whole is strong; the other standout performance is given by Mark Oram as Knock, the misunderstood, willing servant to Orlock. If the story weren’t presented like a silent film, Oram’s movements would be ridiculous. I would peg him as an absurd over-actor. But his commitment to the genre and to his character is bold, and it works perfectly. He brings an unexpected element of humor to the “symphony of terror.”
What I’m saying is, Go see Nosferatu. It’s cheaper and shorter than a movie, and honestly more worth your while.