Tag Archives: John Tiffany

REVIEW: Let the Right One In – Apollo Theatre, London

Writer Jack Thorne and director John Tiffany’s beautifully sensitive version of John Ajvide Lindqvist’s 2004 Swedish horror novel Let the Right One In, turns this vampire tale, (though the ‘V’ word is never mentioned) into something more akin to a fairy tale; albeit a very bloody fairy tale.

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Mercilessly bullied schoolboy Oskar, (Martin Quinn in his professional debut) finds love and understanding with his mysterious new neighbour Eli (Rebecca Benson), but Eli has a secret, whilst she may look like a teenage girl she has been a teenager for a very, very, long time. As the tentative and tender relationship builds between the pair, the town is gripped by fear; there’s a serial killer on the loose. The locals hurry through the snow-covered birch forest, stealing nervous glances behind them at every little sound. The killer on the loose is Hakan, who happens to be Eli’s protector, a man who prowls the woods at night to feed his young charge, stringing his prey up by the ankles in order to drain them dry.

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Thorne’s adaptation has taken the darkest elements of the original novel and added in sensitive direction from John Tiffany, original design by Christine Jones and a chillingly atmospheric sound design and score from Gareth Fry and Olafur Arnald. This is a genuinely thrilling chiller; there is a moment where the entire audience jump out of their collective skins and the climactic swimming pool scene is an absolute nerve-shredder.

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This is the first West End transfer for the National Theatre of Scotland (after a successful premiere in Dundee and sell-out run at the Royal Court) and an unusual and unique piece of work for the West End, but the West End is all the better for it. The subject matter has doubtlessly attracted many of this predominantly young audience, thankfully, Twilight it isn’t. Instead this is a tender, moving, atmospheric and at times terrifying, love story of two outcasts beautifully staged and acted.

Try to catch it before its limited run ends on the 30th of August.

REVIEWS: Once – Phoenix Theatre, London

New musical Once is a heart-rending and affecting celebration of love, friendship and music. When an Irish Hoover repair man by day and busker by night and a young Czech mother meet through a shared love of music, their songwriting takes them both on a journey they never expected.

This was never going to be a typical West End or Broadway musical as anyone who has seen or heard of the the original 2006 film would know. Instead this is a tender, small-scale story told over a period of five days of a love unrequited between an unnamed guy and girl.

The success of such a simple show lies completely in the hands of its cast, and the two leads Declan Bennet and Zrinka Cvitesic (above), are a revelation. I defy anyone not to leave the theatre a little in love with either one or both of them. Both are in possession of beautifully emotive voices and a charisma and magnetism that is hard not to warm to. They are ably supported by a fine cast of fellow actor-musicians.

The only downside is the somewhat stereotypical depiction of the girl’s fellow Czech immigrants and their foreign whacky-ness but that said it was easy to forgive in the context of the story and provided some of the lighter comedy moments. One other slightly jarring note was the movement design by Steven Hoggett, it appears to have been included only to differentiate the piece from being a play with music and an all-out musical, however, it served no real purpose in either driving the story or adding to the emotional temperature of the performance.

This is an engaging tale: relevant, believable and relate-able and beautifully told by a top class cast. It leaves you with feelings of warmth, sadness and inevitably What If’s? It isn’t faultless but it’s as close as you would want anything to be. I defy you not to be moved.

The Phoenix Theatre, London

 Booking until 30th November 2013

 Tickets and information at http://www.oncemusical.co.uk/