Let The Right One In
Jack Thorne adapted from the novel and film by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Sat 30th January to Sat 6th February
Friendship shines brightest when all around is dark
Oskar is a bullied, lonely, teenager living with his mother on a housing estate at the edge of town, when a spate of sinister killings rocks the neighbourhood. Eli is the girl who has just moved in next door. Sensing in each other a kindred spirit, the two become devoted friends. What Oskar doesn't know is that Eli has been a teenager for a very long time.
Let the Right One In is a dark and visceral coming of age vampire love story. Based on the acclaimed novel and film by John Ajvide Lindqvist, this mesmerising stage adaptation was first produced by the National Theatre of Scotland, with Marla Rubin Productions Ltd, at Dundee Rep Theatre, before a run in London's West End, while its New York Broadway run only finished in March 2015.
We are very pleased to be one of the first amateur companies to gain the performing rights to this production.
By the end of the penultimate scene, the stage is littered with three dead bodies. Another character is seriously injured. Yet another is gasping for his life. Oh yes, and a fifth has torrents of blood flowing from her mouth. Welcome to Sweden. More specifically, welcome to a small community on the edge of a Swedish forest. It's cold here. And dark. 'Let the Right One In', Jack Thorne's stage adaptation of the novel and screenplay by John Ajvide Lindqvist, is Nordic noire at it's noirest.
Nobody seems to be having much fun. The police are over-worked. The teenagers at the local school get their kicks out of watching one of their number mercilessly bullying another. The bullied one is Oskar and, not surprisingly, he's having the least fun of all. Apart from being kicked and humiliated at school, his parents have split up. His father is detached, physically and emotionally while his bibulous mother veers between maternal concern and her main priority: filling up her large glass at regular intervals.
Then a serial killer and a vampire move in next door. They have a strange relationship, surprisingly enough. At first we are led to believe that the vampire, Eli, is the killer, Hakan's, daughter. Certainly he seems devoted to her and does his best to keep her fed. But his best is not really good enough. Despite her sylph-like, fragile frame, she has a seemingly insatiable appetite for blood. Is Eli a 'she' at all? More like an 'it'. It can wear skimpy tops and skip through the snow in bare feet. So desperate is Oskar for friendship that he develops a rather touching relationship with this strange being - despite having admitted that she sometimes smells like a wet dog or an infected bandage.
It's difficult to fault the Criterion's adaptation of such an unsettling and disturbing piece of work. Anne-marie Greene's direction makes the most of a stunning set, clever lighting and occasional background music to produce a suitably taut and chilling production.
Pete Meredith plays Oskar with the right mixture of vulnerability, angst and desperation. Lucy Hayton manages to combine fragility with savagery in the 'person' of Eli. Jon Elves captures both the brutality and the haunted obsessiveness of Hakan. Nicole Cortese gives a convincingly nasty display of the vindictiveness of the school bully - until, that is, the older brother makes a belated appearance and demonstrates how to be even nastier. Emma Withers is assuredly slurred as Oskar's Mum. And who needs Kenneth Branagh when you have an understandably world-weary police inspector in Matt Sweatman, reassuringly avuncular when appealing for witnesses on television while grumpily foul-mouthed in private?
The final scene brings an unexpected shaft of light. It's shining on Oskar's face as he sits on a train, looking happy for once. In fact, he's perched on a large chest, encasing Eli and a Faberge egg worth many millions. Well, he deserves a bit of luck. Eli has already indicated that she loves him. They've even had the occasional cuddle. No necking, mind you. And, hopefully, no bloody love bites.
'Let the Right One In' is at the Criterion until Saturday February 6.