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.
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.
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.
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.