Let the Right One In
Twilight, True Blood, Dracula. we can all be forgiven for saying that the vampire franchise has been a little bit too much in our faces within the last five years, and with constant adaptations/remakes/reboots of fan favourite movies and TV programmes, I did have my doubts when I discovered that a stage adaptation of "Let the Right One in" was in the works. with no intention of finding out who the cast or the director would be until the night, I went in with only the knowledge of the original book and two previous films (Made in Finland by John Ajvide Lindqvist, and the U.S, respectively by Hammer Horror). I left pleasantly surprised wanting to go back and see it again.
The stage adaptation focuses on the life of Oskar (played by Martin Quinn), a child who faces constant bullying every day and craves revenge, if only he had the courage to do so. His drive on getting even with the bullies is put to the sidelines (briefly) however when a new neighbour, Eli (Rebecca Benson) arrives next door to him. What follows next is a series of touching interactive moments between the protagonists (keep an eye on the rubiks cube moment, although simple, it's somewhat captivating to observe). However....
There is more to Eli than meets the eye. Through talk by Oskar's borderline depressed mother (Susan Vidler) we establish that Eli has moved in next door and has immediately covered all windows. She will not eat candy like most children of her age, and we only ever see her outside when it is dark...Can you guess what she is yet?
Since Eli is too young/vulnerable to fend for herself, it is up to her carer (Ewan Stewart) to ensure that she gets the sustenance she needs in order to survive, leading to brutal murders, blood draining and body dumps across the local community. Although these two plots are separate, they do interweave to peak crucial moments which lead to choices made by Eli and Oskar that not only cement their innocent affections for one another, but also show development of their maturity.
John Tiffany (Director) made some visually striking moments in this piece, from the throat slit at the very start, to the tension building moment when audience members find out what happens if you don't invite Eli into the home. Well placed choreographed moments in the piece gracefully highlight the trials and tribulations Oskar endures; for me, his ritualistic attack on the tree with his knife is made more bold when joined by an ensemble, suggesting this is practised every night. Eli's brutal killing of Oskar's bullies provided a disturbingly striking image, especially as Quinn is submerged underwater throughout this chilling moment, raising the audience's level of discomfort during this section, which lasted for just under two minutes.
My only criticisms for this piece however would be choice of casting for Oskar. Whilst he captured the awkward teenager to a high standard in interaction with Eli, his height above his bullies would have certainly reduced his chances of actually being a target, and thus have an after effect on him as a brooding misfit; casting a smaller Oskar may have resolved this situation. In the grand scheme of events however, this is merely a minor issue, the permanent set of the child's climbing frame on stage was a good choice to remind the audience of the coming of age tale from child to adult. The pause moments to allow choreography was well executed and clearly defined, stating purpose each time and not being included for the sake of filling in extra minutes. With only a few weeks remaining until closing, it is most certainly worth checking out!
Let The Right One in is being shown at The Royal Court Theatre until Dec 21st. tickets cost £21.
Pictures copyright Royal Court Theatre
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