Review | Let The Right One In ain’t your tween’s vampire romance

Let The Right One In | State Theatre Centre | Until Dec 3 | ★ ★ ★ ★

If a modern vampire romance were to be anywhere, I’m glad it was the Western Australian State Theatre. In the gold of the entranceway it seemed only natural to be greeted by makeup artists offering bite marks and undead eyeshadow before the performance to get you in theme. Don’t be fooled though. Jack Thorne’s play Let the Right One In, adapted from John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel and film of the same name, is anything but decadent.

The three by three grid of interconnected rooms which forms the set is more reminiscent of a grey cement apartment than the rich aesthetics we are used to with vampire narratives. Whilst it is simple, it’s incredibly dynamic, and used to the best of its potential as it morphs open space into domestic claustrophobia.

The play is a warped romance at heart, focusing on the overweight and bullied teen Oskar (Ian Michael), and the vampire Eli (Sophia Forrest) on the verge of starvation. The relationship is anything but healthy. Eli is an unspecified age in a teenager’s body, and the relationship is mirrored by Eli’s unsettling mature relationship with Hakan (Steve Turner). The (sort of) young romance is littered with bodies and murder investigations, tainting innocence and revealing the tensions of a small community under threat.

The fact that the cast is made up of so many actors debuting with the company is incredibly impressive. Both the leads, as well as three more of the small cast of eight, are working with Black Swan for the first time. You wouldn’t know to see it. The leading actress Forrest, a recent WAAPA graduate, was particularly wonderful as she climbs around the set with weightless and supernatural choreography. The artful way in which she transitioned between predator and prey ties the entire play together. Another notable performance was that of Noongar actor Clarence Ryan, playing school bully Micke. His execution is fluid and subtle, leading to his character being perhaps one of the most emotive despite his actions against the male lead.

The play is dark, and obviously quite bloody. It’s not for the squeamish. At each murder the set is lit with a Shining-esque blood projection dripping down the set. The sound design during these intervals are taken to an extreme, which was perhaps the main issue I had with the performance as a whole. The volume exceeded comfortable to the point where I was forced to try zone it out, distracting from the impact it was supposed to have. Frustrating when it was otherwise exceptionally well composed. Some of the other effects made me physically shudder.

Altogether Black Swan has put on an amazing adaptation which takes the Swedish text and gives it a distinctly local flavour. The ambiguity of Eli’s gender was dealt with tastefully, referencing the original texts without relying on shock value. The play asks questions about suburbia, about trust, and of course about the direction supernatural romance has taken in the last few years. For any theatre fan with a strong stomach, this is an absolute must see.

Annique Cockerill

Let The Right One In will be at the State Theatre Centre until Sunday December 3. Tickets and more information available from BSSTC.com.au

Image:- Daniel James Grant


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