ATOMIC ARTS launched themselves onto the radar of Portland's nerd cognoscenti (we are legion) with last summer's Trek in the Park, an unexpectedly fresh, funny live adaptation of the Star Trek episode "Amok Time."
For their sophomore production, an adaptation of the 1922 silent film Nosferatu, the ensemble offers a straightforward treatment of their material, avoiding horror-movie kitsch and opting instead for a restrained take on the film's bloodsucking subject. The result is considerably more somber than the lighthearted Trek: As a young husband and his wife fall into the clutches of the dread Count Orlok (Jesse Graff), not a whiff of humor colors the production—Orlok's long, sinister fingernails are the only hint that the audience might have permission to laugh once in a while. (Full disclosure: My boss, Wm. Steven Humphrey, has a small role, though he didn't perform on the evening I attended the show.)
The highlights of Nosferatu are handily in the details: a live organ score provided by a member of the band Fast Computers ensures an atmosphere of sustained creepiness, bolstered by intricate projected backdrops created by Jen Prokopowicz. Clocking in at just over an hour, the show is short enough that its weaknesses (largely, amateurish acting and an uncertain tone) never really begin to grate—it's not the runaway hit of Trek, but it's a solid effort that identifies where the ensemble needs work in the future.