Let The Right One In

I must admit, that despite several recommendations, I haven’t seen the film version of Let The Right One In (nor it’s American remake Let Me In). So, as I stepped into the newly refurbished Apollo theatre to be confronted by a snow filled forest, I was intrigued. And I continued to be intrigued all the way right up until the show’s climatic end, at which point I was deeply unsettled.

If you’re like me and not up-to-date with your Scandinavian dramas, Let The Right One In is about a young boy who just so happens to become friends with a childlike vampire with a thirst for blood. But this is no Twilight-esque teenage whinefest, Let The Right One in is a chilling play about bullying, rejection and blood-thirsty creatures that go bump in the night.

The action takes place in a snow covered forest, where the trees look dead and extend high into the ceiling. Christine Jones’ set is sparse and makes the audience feel as small as the lead character’s self-confidence. Jones manages to overcome technical challenges such as how to portray a swimming pool on stage with an imaginative flair. Jones has clearly collaborated well with the Special Effects guru Jeremy Chernick to have the audience recoiling in fear. Chernick keeps the audience guessing with his gruesome bloody effects and helps create scenes that are genuinely surprising to watch.

As Eli, the childlike vampire, Rebecca Benson is sinisterly off-putting and she throws herself into the plays horrific scenes with gusto. In lesser hands this role could have been a bit ridiculous, but Benson roars with animalistic fury as she rips into her victims throats. In comparison, Martin Quinn’s Oskar could win prizes for the most likable boy in all of Scandinavia. Quinn’s innocence is wholly convincing and his naivety brings a realistic quality to the dialogue. As Oskar’s bullies, Graeme Dalling and Christian Ortega, never stray into two-dimensional territory and during the final scene it is their fear and youth that makes Angus Miller’s older bully all the more threatening.

In fact, for a show about a vampire, it is the bullying scenes that are the most horrifying to watch. Director John Tiffany cruelly makes these scenes tense and uncomfortable, which makes the more fantastical elements of the play seem all the more real. After all, if humans are capable of doing this to each other, why is it so hard to believe that something supernatural could as well? Let The Right One In is refreshing to watch; it subtlety blends in with the horror seamlessly and it’s like nothing else in the West-End at the moment.

Reviewed by Roz Carter