Let The Right One In

Though Let The Right One In is partially centred on a vampire, it is primarily not a horror or even regarded as particularly supernatural. Like John Ajvide Lindqvist’s original Swedish novel and film – later remade into the polished Hollywood product, Let Me in, starring Chloe Grace Moretz – this is a subtle tale about first love and growing up (or not, I suppose). Aesthetically and tonally speaking it is dark and gritty with a deep feeling of isolation and loss.

The story focuses on Oskar, a bullied and lonely teenage boy living with his mother on a council estate. At the same time as a series of mysterious killings occur, a young girl called Eli moves in next door. The two become very special friends, sensing in each other a kindred spirit but the unconventional relationship ultimately leads to problems and revelations.

Jack Thorne, whose experience as a writer spans theatre, film and TV (earning BAFTA TV Awards for The Fades and This is England 88) has stayed loyal to Lindqvist’s work in his adaptation for the Royal Court, which has been commissioned by The National Theatre of Scotland. The script is short and snappy with plenty of humorous moments; one could assume this is out of context but it only assists in creating special warmth for the piece and the characters. Vampire Eli’s detachment and uncertainty is similarly, in part represented by the humour.

What I think is most striking about Director John Tiffany’s Let The Right One In becoming a stage production is its geographical alteration. Having Lindqvist’s original material set in Sweden really worked in creating the right sort of ambience necessary for this kind of story. To make it so specific as to be located in Scotland is really very brilliant. This is no surprise as the show has being commissioned by The National Theatre of Scotland but still, it is a bold leap.

Christine Jones’s dramatic set design instantly gives off positive vibes about what you’re going to sit through for over two hours. A sprawling white sheet of very real looking artificial snow remains on stage during the entire show, and so does a climbing frame, used to house Oskar and Eli’s budding relationship. Various props are brought on, including a bed and set of lockers but most startling is when the climbing frame is twisted around and filled with water, creating the focus of the pool scene. It is so uplifting and inspiring when such passion and thought has gone into work, as evidenced by Jones here.

As in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, there are some unexpected moments of choreographed movement here, including the ensemble standing behind the two leads, mirroring their actions. Associate Director Steven Hoggett and Associate Movement Director Vicki Manderson have both worked on the choreography for the former show so this is no surprise. Again, a very nice and subtle touch.

Rebecca Benson and Martin Quinn are phenomenal in their respective parts. Benson’s Eli is eery and tragic; she ponders over the sort of things we take for granted and ensures she is the focus whenever present on stage. This is Quinn’s professional stage debut and if he is this good at this point in his career then I think a new star is most certainly on the horizon. Watch your back, Luke Treadaway.

Let The Right One In is playing at the Royal Court until 21 December. For more information and tickets, see the Royal Court Theatre website.