Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer
The Farewell To Middle-earth Issue
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe: Get 12 Issues For £25
Buy the perfect Christmas present this year
Farewell To Middle-earth
Full details of our Peter Jackson-edited issue
Empire Blogs
Empire States

Back to all blogs Comment Now

Screen To Stage: Let The Right One In

Posted on Friday April 4, 2014, 14:59 by Helen O'Hara in Empire States
Screen To Stage: Let The Right One In

Let The Right One In has just opened at the London Apollo, following successful runs at the Royal Court and National Theatre Scotland, which is good news for vampire fans who are looking for a theatrical fix. After all, while our stages groan with doomed princes, '20s playboys and Mormon missionaries, there are relatively few literal bloodsuckers. And this is a strong adaptation of the book / film / whatever, but it hews close to what made Tomas Alfredson's 2008 film work and so its strengths become, for some, also weaknesses. This gives you much of the same impact but also retreads the same snow and blood into the same ground.

As in John Ajvide Lindqvist's book, bullied young Oscar meets a mysterious girl, Eli, who turns out to have an aversion to sunlight and a thing for blood. The setting - or at least the accents - are Scottish this time, but it's still a slow-burning story about a desperate need for connection as much as it is a horror or a thriller. The book has already been adapted for the screen twice, with Matt Reeves' 2010 Let Me In following the storming Swedish film. Even the US remake was, against all the odds of such things, very strong - but then it too cleaved close to the book's story, and the book is utterly terrific.

Putting the tale onstage, then, is a no-brainer, and this adaptation by Jack Thorne is a clever and a careful one. One snow-covered set provides the backdrop for all the action, with bare birch tree trunks providing a background and a snow-covered climbing frame the only other permanent piece of set. It's a dark and sparse look that manages to reflect much of the feel of the book, stripped to the essentials. A few equally spare elements are added as needed: a sofa, a bed, a row of lockers.

Martin Quinn plays Oskar; he's clearly not 12, but he nails the body language of the uncertain young boy and his lust for vengeance against his bullies, and is often quietly funny in his awkwardness. Rebecca Benson, as Eli, adopts an unsettlingly sing-song delivery that works well to display her alienness but becomes mildly irritating as the show goes on, yet she also communicates the decades of hurt and layers of wariness that smother Eli. The rest of the cast exchange roles nimbly, and they all work hard to hit the emotional beats hard, leaving both Oskar and Eli increasingly isolated from everyone around them and increasingly dependant on one another.

The plot is streamlined somewhat: the alcoholic trio of Lacke, Jocke and Virginia have been lost (Jocke's still vamp-meat, but Lacke's role is taken by a police officer), and Hakan's brief tenure as a vampire has been cut out (as it was in the films, if memory serves). The time period also seems a little compressed; there's no question here of bodies popping up after a long winter under the ice, perhaps because Scottish weather doesn't allow for it in quite the same way as Sweden's climate.

But any extra time gained by losing characters is used instead for interpretive dance. Call me a philistine, but generally speaking if I wanted ballet I'd go to the damn ballet. The dancing does effectively communicate the idea of, say, a search of the woods, and it comes in handy late on, but it also provokes a certain urge to eyeroll that is never desirable. Still, I am fully willing to acknowledge that that is a matter of personal preference rather than serious condemnation.

The biggest problem with this play for fans of either film or book is over-familiarity with the material. I have seen both films and read the book (possibly more than once), and most self-respecting film fans will, I suspect, have seen at least one film already. This adaptation is another fine take on a fine book, but it is not essential for those who already know their Oskar and Eli.

Login or register to comment.

Comments

1 lazarou101
Posted on Wednesday April 9, 2014, 13:45
Finally! I've been quite surprised at the rave reviews. I like the screen version of Let The Right One In, I don't love it like a lot of people do, and for me Rebecca Benson's performance on the stage was brutal. By the second half of the show her line delivery set my teeth on edge to the point where I just wanted to leave.
It gets by on the strength of it's solid source material and, frankly, if you want to immerse yourself in this tale there are three far superior ways of doing it.

2 Mpyrereader
Posted on Friday April 11, 2014, 12:24
Thanks for writing about this - I was thinking about going to see it but maybe not now. I remember too much dancing about spoiling Frankenstein.

3 gumphd
Posted on Sunday April 13, 2014, 10:59
Nice to see this review pop up - I was wondering if you'd been to see it, Helen... I agree with most of your points here, although I think Rebecca Benson's voice/line delivery is as divisive as the use of dance... I didn't have a problem with either, in fact the use of physical theatre and dance between scenes combined with that wonderful score helped convey and create the perfect tone for the piece (and, as you hinted, the finale would have pulled the audience completely out of the world that had been created, if we had not already become acclimatised to this interactive style). As for Eli's voice, I thought it was perfect for the character, although I confess that the friend I went with was as similarly frustrated by it as you... I've since recommended it to a few people - and no complaints yet!

Log in below, or register to post comments
Username:
Password:
Remember Me:

CATEGORIES

Empire States (440)

Under The Radar (335)

Infinite Lives (92)

Small Screen (57)

Words From The Wise (36)

Cannes 2011 (28)

Off The Wire (24)

Comic-Con 2010 (21)

Casting Couch (2)

Oscars 2011 (1)


RECENT POSTS

The European Film Awards 2014: A Victory For Ida
By Damon Wise

Cannes Film Festival 2014: Awards Wrap
By Damon Wise

Sundance London: An Introduction To The 2014 Edition
By Damon Wise

Sundance 2014: Final Wrap
By Damon Wise

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
By Damon Wise

Sundance 2014: First Report
By Damon Wise

Shane Carruth Interview: Upstream Color
By Damon Wise

Lars Von Trier's Nymphomaniac: First Look
By Damon Wise

The European Film Awards 2013
By Damon Wise

Metro Manila Charity Screenings
By Damon Wise


RECENT COMMENTS

Sundance 2014: Final Wrap
"lights of both competitors alongside its traditional 24/7 series. Here we have the greatest hits of "  lalkala000
Read comment

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
"Ha ha, buuuurn! I am going to go a step further and say Dredd was a better film."  doug64
Read comment

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
"You are a miserable old fart! "  Crazel
Read comment

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
"Doug64 I totally agreed with you"  Crazel
Read comment

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
"Am I the only person in the world who doesn't think The Raid is all that great? I realise you have t"  doug64
Read comment

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
"Great write-up on a movie for which I am incredibly excited. Even more promisingly, this seems to be"  tysmuse
Read comment

Toronto 2013: Starred Up, Belle, The Invisible Woman, Dom Hemingway, The Double
"If being on a par with Terry Gilliam's 'daft' Brazil is the only criticism avowed Gilliam-disliker D"  Garth_Marenghi
Read comment

Venice 2013: Under The Skin
"I'm glad that Glazer's finally back on the big screen. Judging by the review, he"  Manfrendshensindshen
Read comment

Venice 2013: Gravity Is Out Of This World
"What's really interesting about this film is the trailer gives nothing away but give you the premise"  durelius
Read comment

Venice 2013: Gravity Is Out Of This World
"Looks majestic. Can't wait to see this particularly if it lives up to the slowly-building hype."  herbertwest1701
Read comment


POPULAR POSTS

Why I Love Django Unchained
5 comments

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
5 comments

Venice 2013: Gravity Is Out Of This World
4 comments

Venice 2013: Under The Skin
1 comments

Toronto 2013: Starred Up, Belle, The Invisible Woman, Dom Hemingway, The Double
1 comments

Sundance 2013: The Round-Up Part Two
1 comments

Sundance 2013: The Round-Up Part 5
1 comments

Argo: a round table encounter with Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston and John Goodman
1 comments

Cannes 2013: Some Thoughts On The Official Lineup
1 comments

Sundance 2014: Final Wrap
1 comments


BLOGGERS
Damon Wise (298)
Helen O'Hara (181)
James Dyer (86)
Amar Vijay (71)
Ali Plumb (56)
James White (29)
Phil de Semlyen (21)
Owen Williams (21)
Simon Braund (6)
Nev Pierce (5)
Ally Wybrew (2)
Ben Kirby (1)
David Parkinson (1)
Dan Jolin (1)
Ian Nathan (1)

SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS

SAVE UP TO 69% GET 12 ISSUES FOR ONLY £25
Get the best seat in the house by subscribing to the world's biggest movie magazine today. Save up to 69% and every month you'll get exclusive subscriber-only covers, access to the biggest stars and the best news, reviews and behind-the-scenes reports straight from the set. Click here to find the perfect offer for you


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Empire's Mad Max: Fury Road Cover Arrives
Tom Hardy leads our 2015 preview issue

The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The biggest, best, brightest and sometimes weirdest films of the coming year

James Cameron Talks Tech, Terminators and Avatar Sequels
An extended version of our interview from our Peter Jackson guest-edited issue

Empire's Three Favourite Scenes Of 2014
A hat-trick of moneyshots from the last 12 months

The 32 Funniest Movie Moments Of The Year
2014's side-splittingest scenes

The 10 Best Games Of The Year
2014's top pixel-pushers duke it out for the number one slot

Dan Stevens: The Breakout Star Of 2014
We congratulate The Guest star on his year to remember

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)