Review: Nosferatutu… Or Bleeding At The Ballet (Griffin Theatre Company)

griffinVenue: SBW Stables Theatre (Kings Cross NSW), Jan 7 – 21, 2017
Playwrights: Tommy Bradson
Director: Sheridan Harbridge
Cast: Tommy Bradson, Sheridan Harbridge, Brandyn Kaczmarczyk
Musicians: Steven Kreamer, Sally Schinckel-Brown, Olga Solar
Image by Lucy Parakhina

Theatre review
We find ourselves at a ballet performance, but a vampire hijacks the proceedings. What he offers is something entirely different from the Swan Lake that had been intended, but is no less beautiful and captivating. Tommy Bradson’s Nosferatutu… Or Bleeding At The Ballet is a tale of jealousy and unrealised ambition. It is about the manifestation of envy as a destructive force, alongside a subversive creativity that can result from the darkness of life as a struggling artist.

On stage, Bradson is an enchanting performer, a Frankenstein monster assembled from our memories of Rowan Atkinson and Marc Almond at their respective best. He wields a kind of magic that is bizarre and confusing, but mostly, it is transportative, taking us effortlessly away to, well, anywhere else but here. Bradson is no ballerina, but every gesture is seductive and powerful. His eyes are mesmerising, full of intense but unresolved emotion, and his voice, a stunning cacophony made of wild imagination and an unbridled passion for high drama.

Direction by Sheridan Harbridge is spirited and adventurous, charming in its embrace of a kind of theatrical madness that the protagonist inspires. The incorporation of live music, headed by Steven Kreamer, is highly effective, with a surprising sophistication in what it allows the production to convey. Also noteworthy are Alex Berlage’s lights and Ashisha Cunningham’s set, both impressive in their interpretation of space for this quirky but bold experiment of non-narrative storytelling.

When Nosferatutu attacks and murders his nemesis, the blood that splatters is a celebration of the avant-garde, and an expression of the innovation that all art requires. It is a messy affair, but anarchy is never convenient, and disruption is always necessary for greater meanings to be unearthed.