Let the Right One In OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Sara Krulwich
  • NY TIMES

  • VULTURE

  • TM

Opening Night:
January 20, 2015
Closing:
March 8, 2015

Theater: St. Ann's Warehouse / 38 Water Street, New York, NY,

Synopsis: 

Let the Right One In is a brutal and tender vampire myth told through the turbulence of a coming-of-age romance. Oskar, a lonely boy from a broken home, is bullied at school and longing for friendship. Eli, the young girl who moves in next door, doesn’t attend school and rarely leaves home. When a series of mysterious killings plagues the neighborhood, these two young misfits, sensing in each other a kindred spirit, forge a deep connection. But the shocking truth about one of them tests their young friendship—and love—beyond all imaginable limits.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Let the Right One In

    A Frightening and Feral First Love

    Ben Brantley

    January 25, 2015: Few bloodsuckers are as irresistible as Eli, the wan and abject heroine of Let the Right One In, which quietly shivered open on Sunday night to wring your heart while scaring the mortal stuffing out of you. True, Eli is nothing like the beautiful It vampires who slither across screens in movies like Only Lovers Left Alive and the Twilight series. As portrayed by the remarkable Rebecca Benson in this gut-clutching import from the National Theater of Scotland, now at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn through Feb. 15, Eli resembles some stunted woodland plant, long deprived of sun and nourishment. Her glamour quotient is nil, as are her social skills, and she is said to smell like a cross between pus and a wet dog. Yet she speaks to that little creature in all of us that will always feel rejected and alone in this big, brutal world. And she somehow confirms your darkest suspicions that the human race isn’t even worth belonging to. For a lad like Oskar (Cristian Ortega), a social pariah just entering puberty, she is oh so easy to love. Adapted by Jack Thorne from a novel and screenplay by the Swedish writer John Ajvide Lindqvist, and killingly staged by John Tiffany and Steven Hoggett, Let the Right One In is both the bleakest and most compassionate of vampire stories. It provides the surface frissons you expect from portraits of the undead, with graphic bloodletting and a couple of great “gotcha” (in the neck) moments. (There’s a reason the credits include a special effects designer, Jeremy Chernick.) But the play is scary in deeper ways. In presenting an eternal, innocently murderous child as the ideal playmate for a bullied boy from a broken home, Right One addresses our most primitive instincts for retribution, the same ones that animated our adolescent revenge fantasies against everyone who spurned or humiliated us.

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  • VULTURE REVIEW OF Let the Right One In

    Trying to Smarten Up Vampire Romance, With Let the Right One In

    Jesse Green

    January 25, 2015: The frequent collaborators John Tiffany and Steven Hoggett seem to be everywhere these days, not just geographically but narratively. Whether the tale they’re telling is psychological (as in the recent Broadway Glass Menagerie) or sociopolitical (Black Watch) or mytho-historical (the Alan Cumming Macbeth) or just groovy (What’s It All About?, the Burt Bacharach revue Hoggett put together) they almost always manage the difficult trick of cutting to the bone while raising the emotional temperature. To do this, they bring a certain amount of magic to their realism, as when Laura in that great Glass Menagerie made her first entrance and final exit through a kind of memory-wormhole in a sofa. But they also bring a certain amount of realism to their magic, and that’s an iffier proposition. At any rate, it’s a problem in their production of Let the Right One In, a vampire romance now at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Dumbo. The show — directed by Tiffany, with Hoggett as associate director and also in charge of movement — finds the pair at the top of their form visually and emotionally but intellectually overwrought, if not sucked dry. Let’s face it: Vampire stories are not the deep end of literature, no matter what metaphorical pretensions are offered in their defense. This one, adapted by Jack Thorne from a 2004 Swedish novel and 2008 film (later remade in English as Let Me In), offers too many. The most obvious are played out in the relationship between the play’s main characters: a lonely young teen named Oskar and Eli, a vampire girl — if she is a girl — who moves into the flat next door. Oskar is not only tortured by homophobic bullies at school but also woefully under-parented. (His alcoholic mother and possibly gay father are divorced and seem to be involved in a contest to see who can ignore him most.) Meanwhile, Eli, a permanent member of a despised minority whose “difference” is mixed up in some way with sexuality, is also under-parented: She has no mum or dad to stop her from walking around in the snow without shoes. True, the man who procures blood for her could be seen as a kind of father figure, but only if your idea of paternal love also includes erotic longing and threats of self-harm with sulfuric acid. In any event, because he is human and aging, he is starting to fail in his duties. Parents! And yet not just parents; the play suggests a chain of un-mindfulness leading from home to school to town to nation. (Despite retaining the Swedish names, Let the Right One In appears to take place in Scotland; it was commissioned by that country’s National Theatre.) This being the early 1980s, that all-purpose bogeyman Ronald Reagan even gets a shout-out; he is heard on the telly promoting his Star Wars initiative. We are meant to understand that Evil Empires are not the work of misunderstood vampires and belittled children but of authority figures too involved in their own petty schemes and megalomaniacal delusions to notice the damage being done all around them.

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  • THEATERMANIA REVIEW OF Let the Right One In

    John Tiffany brings his Swedish vampire romance from London's West End to Brooklyn's St. Ann's Warehouse

    David Gordon

    January 25, 2015: The creative collaboration between John Tiffany and Steven Hoggett is one of the most indispensible of our time, resulting in productions as exciting as they are surprising. This marriage of director and movement choreographer has given us several memorable, challenging evenings of theater. Their latest, Let the Right One In, is a stage version of John Ajvide Lindqvist's romantic horror novel and screenplay, currently making its U.S. debut at St. Ann's Warehouse. An extraordinarily imaginative production, Right One, which premiered at the National Theatre of Scotland before moving to London's Royal Court and West End, is not for the queasy; in fact, the play contains one of the single scariest moments ever seen onstage. Yet at its heart, Let the Right One In is a stirring love story, with a chilling vampire tale mixed in for good measure. Adapted for the stage by playwright Jack Thorne, the show finds its protagonist in Oskar (Cristian Ortega), a young teenager going through his awkward stage while being mercilessly bullied by his classmates (Graeme Dalling and Andrew Fraser) with beatings and shouts of "piggy." Meanwhile, a series of gruesome murders have been taking place in their unnamed Swedish town, and the local youth has been advised to stay out of the woods. It's around this time that Oskar meets Eli (Rebecca Benson), a similarly aged young woman in whom Oskar sees the kindred spirit of loneliness. Eli, however, has a deep, dark secret, one that connects her to both the killings and their perpetrator, an older man (Cliff Burnett) who has been hanging people upside down and slitting their throats to collect their blood.

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