23 May 2014

Let The Right One In at the Apollo Theatre was stupendous

I am on lots of theatre mailing lists and still I almost missed this one. It was Twitter that saved the day, as it often does.

Somehow I had missed the source book and two film versions too, this was a story that I should have known but did not. Not knowing may have been an advantage as one the delights of the play is the number of surprises thrown at the audience.

It is derived from John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Swedish horror novel, which puts it firmly in the Nordic Noir camp, which is why I should have known about it earlier and was happy to accept seats away from my comfort zone to make sure that I saw it.

The best seats I could get were in Row D of the Grand Circle (D12) for £39.50. I have no idea what happened to the bookings on that night but when I collected my ticket at the box office I had an upgrade marked on it in biro. I was moved down one level from the Grand Circle to the Dress Circle and forward from the fourth row to the first (A19). This is where I would have chosen to sit all things being equal, though the standard price of £80 plus would have been sufficient deterrent.

My view from there was perfect as the photo below shows.

The tone was set quickly when one of the people walking through the woods is approached by a stranger who the murders him and hangs him from a tree by his feet.

From there the story developed in two directions, the horrors in the woods continued and alongside this two young people, not quite teenagers, start to fall in love.

Populating these stories were the strange companion to they young girl, the young boys estranged family (he lived with his mother) and the students and staff at the boy's school where he was repeatedly bullied.

The stories raced forward in a succession of short scenes with the stage changing just as rapidly as the action moved from location to location. Each short scene jumped the narrative on a jolt and some of these jolts were quite big.

The narrative was dramatic, fast-paced, horrific and also tender. It was obvious why the original story had spread easily to other media.

The narrative did not need much help put it got plenty anyway. In addition to the imaginative sets there was moody lighting and a tense musical soundtrack. And yes I did jump at the big moment. The acting was also superb.

As it's a horror story, Let The Right One In is not going to appeal to everybody but it certainly appealed to me. It was a truly excellent and distinctive piece of theatre.

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