Let The Right One In review - April 2014
Doom, gloom and plenty of bloodshed, this show is one to watch.If “vampires” could be considered a genre, it would undoubtedly be one of my favourites. With a teenage love of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and a slight True Blood addiction as well as penchant for spooky novels, I was very excited that a new scary and somewhat blood thirsty show was arriving in the West End.*
Let the Right One In is the tale of the downtrodden Oskar, a young boy from a broken home who strikes up an unlikely friendship with the shadow loving, food hating new girl next door, Eli. Based on John Ajvide Lindqvist’s acclaimed Swedish novel, the stage adaptation by Jack Thorne (relocated to a Scottish setting) has an excellent creative team behind it, resulting in a rare engaging book/film to stage adaptation.
Directed by John Tiffany and with movement by Stephen Hoggett (the same creative duo behind Once), the show is in safe hands from the start. However the real stand out features of the show are provided by Christine Jones in what gets my vote for the 2014 Olivier Award for Best Set Design. As the West End Whinger’s pointed out in their review, there are a total of 37 (!) trees on stage, many of which are used as an innovative generator of levels. The climbing frame come swimming pool trick was one of the best set transformations I have ever seen. EVER.
Teenager Martin Quinn shows acting capability beyond his years as he stuns the audience with his advanced portrayal of Oskar. He is funny and he is heartbreaking and I predict great success in this young mans future. Similarly his acting counterpart Rebecca Benson demonstrates a creepy prowess as the un-dead Eli. At first her monotone, emotion-free persona was difficult to connect with, but as the cracks started to appear in her characters cool façade, her inner turmoil becomes brutally apparent.
There were a few niggling issues with the show, such as why the Scottish villagers still all have Scandinavian names and WHY someone collecting blood would do so in a tinytiny funnel…it just seems wasteful! Issues aside, and despite a slightly slow paced beginning, come Act Two I was both disturbed and hooked by the action; the climatic “swimming pool scene” was one of the most tense and well executed scenes I have ever sat on the edge of my seat watching!
I was left with a distinct sense of overall sadness when I realised that the creepy old man “protecting” Eli, was probably once the Oskar of his generation…
Doom, gloom and plenty of bloodshed, this show is one to watch.
* I didn’t really want to hark on about the location of the show at the Apollo Theatre, as many critics have. Instead I will say I really liked the “screen” in place above the Upper Circle. A ominous nights sky with an omniscient moon was a nice adaptation on the traditional theatrical ceiling depicting cherubs among clouds. Nice touch.
8 April 2014, Apollo Theatre