There is so much to love about Let the Right One In that I really don’t know where to start. Jaunty dialogue that belies its heavier themes; deep, rich characterisation that lets you into its world without making it too easy; and a challenging plot unafraid to embrace the darkness of the human spirit combine to make a show that is as engaging and heart-warming as it is confronting and horrifying.
Thinking about it, the plot could have emerged from the cheesiest of Hollywood blockbusters. But it is in fact Swedish in origin, and characteristically so, given its classy combination of high- and low-brow imagery.
The story is centred on Oskar and Eli, played respectively by Martin Quinn and Rebecca Benson. The pair form an uneasy friendship that develops into something much more. As Oskar faces the tormenting of his school bullies, Eli faces an uncertain future as a vampire who hides in the forest with her carer who undertakes the odd murder from time to time to provide her with sustenance.
It’s at this point that I would have flicked the page if I was reading this synopsis looking for a show to see. Luckily, I refrained from reading too much and just booked the bargain ticket I’d seen advertised on Facey. As I’ve found in the past, the less I knew about the play, the better the result.
There is an understated intensity to this play. It sits lightly on the stage but the heaviness of its themes rear their heads constantly through the music that filmically punctuates the action, and in the occasional gory scene (some of which I think would even make Shakespeare blush).
The set is almost as much a star as the great performers. Okay, so I have a thing for birch trees, and the set has them, so I like the set. But no, I mean I love the set! There is such a lightness in the way the trunks dominate the space, and the indoor scenes, indicated with nothing more than a piece of furniture, are enhanced by the air the trees imply. I’d probably have liked it almost as much if they had used something else, but birch were definitely the right choice.
I really couldn’t have picked a better play had I tried, and I’m so glad I got the chance to see this. Brilliance.