Review – Let the Right One In, Apollo Theatre

Friday 4 April 2014

gI_120388_Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 10.49.01A few things you may not know about Let the Right One In.

Let the Right One In is not a UKIP immigration policy.

Nor is Let the Right One Nigel Farage’s new campaign slogan. Well, not yet anyway.

Phil can’t think of the title, Let the Right One without humming “The Hokey Cokey”.

Including this, 3 out 4 of Phil’s last visits to the theatre were stage-to screen-adaptations but this one comes dressed up as “Based on the Swedish novel and film by John Ajvide Lindquist“. So that’s alright then.

We expected it to be located in Sweden. This is a National Theatre of Scotland production so all the cast have Scottish accents, which for our prosaic minds, located it firmly in Scotland. Yet the characters have names like Oskar and Hakan and import their newspapers from Sweden. Confusing.

Rather excitingly we also see Swedish Plopp chocolate bars. Presumably these are also available deep-fried.

Christopher Jones’ design sets it in a forest of silver birches. Don’t panic. You haven’t wandered into a Chekhov play by mistake.

There are 37 trees. Phil counted them. It was something to do.

A lonely young boy, who has a strange relationship with his mother, Oskar (Martin Quinn) is being bullied at school. A disturbed girl Eli (Rebecca Benson) who has a strange relationship with her father?/lover?/feeder moves into the climbing frame apartment next door and an unlikely romance develops. But there’s a serial killer loose in the woods. Who could it be?

The killer is a bit rubbish. He hangs his victims upside down to collect their blood. He should take a trip to B&Q and treat himself to a bigger funnel for his cannister.

Did we forget to mention it’s about a vampire? We saw the film, assumed you did too. Rather enjoyed the film. It had subtitles. We kinda missed them.

Quinn is quite mesmerisingly put upon and troubled as Oskar. Benson displays all the emotional frailty of a girl who has never seen a Rubik’s cube, never eaten a fried Mars bar and spends her sleeping hours avoiding daylight in a trunk. Perhaps she was born in one.

The music is appropriately spooky. It’s by Ólafur Arnalds who also did the music for Broadchurch. When the West End exhausts adapting films they might consider plundering TV. Broadchurch!: The Musical anyone? Hold on, TV plundering has already started with I Can’t Run! at the Palladium.

Jack Thorne’s dialogue is delivered in a strange unnatural and distancing way and at the same pace almost throughout. Presumably Tony-winning John Tiffany (Black Watch, Once) directed them this way. There’s very little change of tone.

There’s a bit of unnecessary dance (or is it called movement?), considerable tree climbing and a touch of tree hugging. Did we mention there’s 37 trees? They had to find something to do with them.

A man relieves himself against one of them, confirming urination as this year’s theatrical must-have accessory (cf. Urinetown, The Full Monty, From Here To Eternity). Although the peeing here is pretty half-arsed (should that be half-cocked?).

Andrew’s making bad choices at the moment. He should have come to Dirty Rotten Scoundrels if only for the yodelling. He came to this instead. Surprisingly we didn’t leave at the interval. It was touch and go.

If we’d left we’d have missed a couple of impressive bits of stage trickery. One involved a strategically placed blood capsule…

..the other was a Houdini-esque coups de théâtre towards the end which demonstrates a remarkable display of breath control. Phil was certainly holding his.

A sequel is planned which will feature other impressive displays of human air control, Let the Right Ones Out.

Phil put the boot right in declaring he’d had more fun at Faecal Attraction but countered it by saying he’d enjoyed LTROI more than that other over-praised, woman-eats-humans-to survive, Scotland-based gloom-fest with wonderfully creepy music, Under the Skin. That piece of pretentious twaddle will probably end up on a stage too. Hopefully without the engorged male members. Should they need it, there’s a generous prosthetic dangling around somewhere now that The Full Monty has departed.

Time Out awarded LTROI 5 stars when it was at the Royal Court. But then they would, they gave Under the Skin 5 stars too.

But it was nice to see the Apollo Theatre open again after the roof collapse. The ceiling and gallery is screened off by a play-specific painting. Is the artwork to protect theatregoers from further masonry falls or just decoration? If you get front row day seats (as we did) you’re not underneath it. Ah well, what should one expect for £15?

Maybe it’s the strand of Scottish blood in Phil’s veins (and there’s a lot of Scottish blood displayed here) or more likely it was this production. But both Phil and Andrew have resolved their political vacillations. They both stand in favour of Scottish independence now.


4 Responses to “Review – Let the Right One In, Apollo Theatre”

  1. Fiona Says:

    One to avoid then! Thank you! I might have wasted money buying tickets, taxi fares and train tickets so I am very glad I read this first. I never did like slightly corked wine!

  2. I had a chat with one of the ushers – the painting is on fabric and now hides the air vents.

    I enjoyed it a lot, but am convinced they could’ve shaved a good 15 minutes off the running time by removing the tree hugging. Dreamy disconnected swedish mood piece yes, tree-dancing no. Though I was also in favour of more detective and sweet shop bloke.

    • Phil (a west end whinger) Says:

      We thought it would have been better without an interval. But then they probably need to claw a bit of money back at the bars after the theatre’s closure and the structural work that needs doing.
      Very young audience (not us obvs) seemed very appreciative. Perhaps we’re too old. Though we both liked the film.

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