Nosferatu’s Shadow – Edinburgh Fringe
We like a bit of theatre at the Hothouse, films and books are cool, but good theatre speaks to you in a unique way, you may be just one of many bums on seats but played right you are the person in that room who is being spoken to. We like dark old Edinburgh too, so imagine how happy we were when we discovered this little gem
Yes a play about the legendary German actor Max Schreck who played the very first screen Dracula in F W Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922). We had to find out more so tracked writer and performer Micheal Daviot down to his secret Edinburgh hideout to discover just what had attracted him to Schreck’s story
‘Max Schreck is universally recognized as the face of Nosferatu, the most iconic movie monster of them all, yet totally unknown as a man. Lauded for his versatility and skill in comedy and drama, he played 800 roles and acted in 50 films. He appeared in Shakespeare and Schiller, Moliere and Brecht. He performed anti-Nazi cabaret, while Hitler made speeches next door. He was a lover of Nature. A mystic. A dreamer. Enigmatic, but greatly loved. It’s time to release him from Nosferatu’s Shadow.
‘Max lived and worked through the last days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, The Weimar Republic and the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich. He was a ‘good German’, but he stayed put in order to work. How did he survive? What compromises did he have to make?
In the show excerpts from roles he played act as counterpoint to the events of his life and the history of his time. He sings and dances, he capers and cavorts! He takes long, solitary walks in his beloved hills and forests. He dreams and philosophizes. He does what he can to survive with dignity.
He had an extraordinary life, and an even more extraordinary after-life. He became, like Nosferatu, one of the undead, but shrouded in anonymity. This is the first ever dramatic telling of his story. Images and inter-titles from the film, Nosferatu, are woven into the fabric of the play; its making, reception and near destruction are all part of the story. Max’s ‘’accidental and inappropriate immortality” arising from Nosferatu is the motivation for his tale.
I was intrigued by Schreck’s anonymity, so I did some ‘deep space’ exploration of the internet for a month or so. I found original obituaries and epitaphs from the time and realized that I might be onto something. Obscure websites and blogs gradually filled in the picture. Then I discovered that a German biography about him had been written in 2009. It was little more than a catalogue of all of Max’s work, but it nonetheless gave much more detail to the story. And confirmed everything already I had gleaned from online sources. The life was fascinating, well worth sharing. And underpinning all, the irony of why Max is still remembered – the only horror film he made, which should have been destroyed (Bram Stoker’s widow had sued for copyright infringement and the court had ordered all copies of the film burnt). Had it been, Max the man would have been swallowed whole by oblivion’
Edinburgh based Micheal has been ‘At it for 33 years and has played everything from the Scarecrow to Prospero, along with other plays about Henry Irving, WB Yeats, Robert Louis Stevenson and Nijinsky’
Future projects will involve a series of performances accompanied by a screening of the original film together with a new musical score by Dmytro Morykit.
Nosferatu’s Shadow is on at Sweet Grassmarket, apex Grassmarket Hotel, Edinburgh, EH1 2HS at 9:35pm daily up until 28 August
Tickets are £10 (concessions £8) available from the Fringe website
Future projects will involve .