Dracula’s arrival on English shores must be one of the most enduring scenes of Gothic horror ever written.
A crewless ship with the vessel’s captain, lifeless, strapped to the wheel, sails in to Whitby in a shroud of mist, bearing a mysterious cargo of wooden containers.
Genius. The suspense isn’t from what’s told, but what remains untold.
Enter Proper Job Theatre Company and Nosferatu, their 80-minute take on what actually happened to the sailors on that fateful journey.
Featuring an original score, a healthy dose of haunting vocals, and – perhaps the biggest draw – a libretto from the ‘Bard of Barnsley’ himself, Ian McMillan, this play ticked all the boxes for fans of Stoker and suspense alike.
It’s impossible to give away too much, because it’s very hard to quantify what exactly happens. But basically, a lot of folk music, many, many enigmatic shots of the captain looking into the distance, and the crew’s inevitable onset of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Which I guess is pretty much true to the book.
At times dipping into the realm of self-gratification – there’s a great deal of melodrama and slapping of faces, which tires quickly – it makes some interesting points about the importance of deities in the face of fear and how many answers science really can provide.
And it was good – the slow but sailing poetry of McMillan’s libretto drives forward the journey of Nosferatu, while Stoker’s sudden bites of intense terror are like a pair of white, sharp teeth plunging towards the neck.
Sadly, that’s it for this year, but let’s hope they take more of Dracula to the stage in 2016.
Image courtesy of Proper Job Theatre Company, with thanks