Let the Right One In at the Royal Exchange Theatre Review

Let the Right One In at the Royal Exchange Theatre Review


Posted 2022-10-31 by David Keyworthfollow

Sat 22 Oct 2022 - Sat 19 Nov 2022

Let the Right One In is in many ways a conventional teen romance story. Two lonely misfits meet on a November night. Their cautious, then playful friendship becomes more intimate as each reveals more of their inner life and back story.

But Oskar's (Pete MacHale) story of bullying and divorced parents is conventional compared to Eli's (Rhian Blundell) back story of having been around for a 'very long time' and having to live off blood. "I'm not a girl, not a boy, just Eli," she tells Oskar.

Eli's father, Hakin, is played by Royal Exchange regular Andrew Sheridan (Blinsided , Wuthering Heights) with chilling blond hair and the aura of a clinical but reluctant killer. He provides the ethical dilemma of the story - what lengths would you go to if you could only keep your child alive by committing serial murder?

The stage adaptation is by Jack Thorne, based on the Swedish novel and film by Jon Ajvide Lindqvist. It was first performed at the Dundee rep Theatre in 2013. I didn't find the drama as tense and scary as I expected. This may be in part because, I suspect like many others in the audience, I had seen the film - Matt Reeve's 2010 remake of Tomas Alfredson's 2008 original.

It may also be because the illusion of an isolated world was harder to sustain in the theatre. But it was mainly because the play focuses, quite rightly, on the human story and the interplay between the innocently restless Oskar and the cagey but sympathetic Eli. The scenes where it was not just the two of them on stage felt less compelling, even the relentless school-bullying of Oskar.

That said, Joshua Pharo's lighting design did create the jolting feel of unrestful suburban nights. Pete Malkin's sound design and music was one of the show's best aspects. It flows between electronic dance and a melancholic brooding drone, with half an ear on the 1980s setting.

The play's title was originally inspired by Morrissey's 1988 song Let The Right One Slip In. Jack Thorne and Jon Ajvide Lindqvist have expanded the Mancunian's title into a story about learning to live with who you are and to accept the unique nature of the people who are right for you. They may be different from you in ways you could never imagine, even though they may also be as close as a blood brother or sister.

Let the Right One In, directed by Bryony Shanahan, is at the Royal Exchange until 19 November. It last two hours and twenty minutes, including an interval. It is recommended for ages 14 and above.

!date 22/10/2022 -- 19/11/2022
71439 - 2023-01-26 01:53:42


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