Dylan O’Neill reviews Let The Right One In, which runs in the Abbey Theatre until the 20th January.
A bleak and wintry forest sets the scene for this nail-biting adaptation of John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel of the same name. Let The Right One In, based on a film renowned for its use of blood and gore, does not shy away from shocking and disturbing imagery. Director John Tiffany utilises the set to add to the constant and foreboding suspense by perpetuating an ever-constant feeling of isolation.
The light and sound design go hand-in-hand in this production to play on the audience’s fear, and to subvert their expectations of what might happen as they become more invested in Oskar’s relationship with the mysterious girl/vampire next door, Eli. Even with the knowledge that jump-scares will feature, they are impossible to predict. Light provides the only source of warmth onstage, but is often undercut by the interactions between Oskar and his mother, or Oskar and his school tormentors. Moments of unspoken choreographed movement featured in the show are coupled with uncharacteristic melodies. This music contrasts with the turmoil Oskar experiences coping with his alcoholic mother and fighting back against the bullies.
The costumes and makeup allow the audience to really see the parallel with the source material. The use of fake blood, against the white snow or the pale complexion of Eli, creates a striking image, that some viewers may find upsetting.
Given that this show was performed in the Abbey Theatre, I expected a strong cast and I was not disappointed. The stand-out for me was Katie Honan’s portrayal of Eli. Honan took, what should have been a played out, stereotypical vampire character, and made an emotionally deep character. Despite her basic need for human blood, and the deaths she caused, the audience still root for her. Another character which grabbed the audience, was the titular Oskar, played by Craig Connolly. Connolly’s portrayal of the naïve schoolboy, not only conflicted with Honan’s omnipotent and harrowing presence onstage, but his endearing nature made the underlying coming-of-age tale all the more tragic as the audience come to realise that Eli and Oskar’s relationship would not have a happy ending.
Let The Right One In runs until the 20th January in the Abbey Theatre.