Pros: An original, contemporary, thrilling, funny and stylised adaptation of the hit film.
Cons: None, although if you’re squeamish the amount of blood splattered on stage may be a tad off-putting.
I grew up watching horror films. I used to get all my friends around for sleep overs, turn all the lights off and then scream at the prom queen running up the stairs instead of out the front door, while being chased by a masked killer with a kitchen knife. Those were good sleep overs! Fast forward 25 years and horror is still one of my favourite genres and, with the success of The Woman in Black and more recently Ghost Stories, it seems the West End is embracing it as well.
The newest addition, although sadly finishing this Saturday after an incredibly successful run, is Let The Right One In. Based on the Swedish novel and hit film by John Ajvide Lindqvist this play, adapted by The National Theatre Of Scotland, is quite honestly like nothing you have ever seen before. I’d heard about this show years ago from a friend of mine up in Scotland and I remember thinking to myself: but how? The first thing that strikes you as you sit down, in the now beautifully restored Apollo Theatre, is the set. Beautifully designed by Christine Jones, there are wall to wall giant trees and a kids’ playground (with a twist), and the entire stage is covered in snow. Before the house lights go down, actors sporadically appear walking through ‘the forest’ and as you get comfortable you know you’re about to see something unique.
From bullying to isolation, Let The Right One In explores so many important themes, but at its heart lies a love story. Eli, superbly played by Rebecca Benson is the ancient vampire trapped in a teenager’s body who befriends the meek and insecure Oscar, outstandingly portrayed by Martin Quinn. Through a multitude of touching scenes, under the watchful and loving eye of director John Tiffany, we watch this unique friendship (and its ramifications) blossom.
The leads are assisted by a stellar support cast. Susan Vidler as Oscar’s mother is stunning and I found her scenes with Oscar, especially the bedroom scene, beautiful to watch. Graeme Dalling is so believable as the evil bully Johnny that it reminded me of my early days at high school. Clive Mendus, who plays Hakan, has the harder role of being the real ‘monster’ in the play and his characterization of this tormented, yet extremely dark, soul was outstanding. There are so many standout performances across the whole play, but most importantly the whole cast work as a tight, strong and focused ensemble. From moving props without you noticing, to wonderful dance sequences, they work together as one solid unit. This is testament to John Tiffany’s fabulous direction.
Another person who needs a mention is composer Ólafur Arnalds as the score of this magical piece of theatre is sublime. His dark and ominous, yet warm and heartfelt music sets the scene like I’ve never experienced before. His music takes you on a journey of discovery and the ride is goose bump inducing. As soon as I got home I downloaded all of his albums to my Spotify playlist.
From several murders to the odd decapitation (it’s still a love story I promise!), the gore is off the chart in this show. Jeremy Chernick’s special effects are eye-poppingly good and so subtly executed that you’re left aghast not only from the terror but also from wondering ‘How the hell did they do that?’
Whether you’re a steadfast horror fan or not, Let The Right One In is a play that must be seen. It will touch you in so many ways and will stay with you for days to come. Just keep some garlic nearby.
Author: John Ajvide Lindqvist
Adapted by: Jack Thorne
Director: John Tiffany
Booking Until: 30 August 2014
Box Office: 0844 482 9671
Booking Link: http://www.apollotheatrelondon.co.uk/let-the-right-one-in/