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 The Theatreguide.London Review

Let The Right One In
Royal Court Theatre  Winter 2013; Apollo Theatre Spring-Summer 2014

This adaptation by Jack Thorne of the novel and film by John Ajvide Lindqvist is an attempt by the Royal Court and the National Theatre of Scotland to reach out to younger audiences, and as such I applaud it. Whether it has enough to appeal to those much over twenty is another question. 

I must confess to not being familiar with the novel or film, or with any of the many other I-was-a-teenage-vampire books, films, TV shows or graphic novels. But there must be more to them than paper-thin plots, some stage blood and what play like desperate attempts to inject some atmosphere through droning new age music and a couple of odd synchronised movement sequences. 

A teenage boy constantly bullied in school makes friends with the new girl in town, only to discover that she's a centuries-old transgender vampire and the reason the town has lately become strewn with bloodless corpses. 

Can love triumph over the age difference, not to mention her superhuman powers, constant need for fresh blood and inability to enter a room without being invited? 

Martin Quinn captures the lumpen passivity of the kind of kid who has resigned himself to being bully fodder and Rebecca Benson conveys the kind of weirdness that can suggest depth to some teenage boys. I can see how, with the proper neo-Gothic atmosphere, this could appeal to some young people of a romantic bent, particularly those who project their own loneliness and sense of being social outcasts onto the story. 

But it is exactly that atmosphere that director John Tiffany hasn't captured, so that the occasional gory moments and that constant movie music seem out of place rather than helping to define the play's reality. 

This wants to be 'Nice, undeservedly tormented kid discovers his true place, and the opportunity for revenge, by taking a step into the dark side'. What we get is 'Two socially awkward kids fall in love. Oh, and she kills people', which is not the same thing.

Gerald Berkowitz


Review - Let The Right One In - Royal Court Theatre 2013  
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