There has been a certain commonality in recent times to stage adaptations of horror films, a list headed by The Toxic Avenger musical, Evil Dead the Musical, and Re-Animator the?well, you get the picture. These productions have all added an element of singing and dancing to their respective source material (or sauce material, given the amount of blood on display in the original films). The National Theatre of Scotland’s new take on Swedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist’s 2004 vampire novel—and the subsequent, Lindqvist-penned 2008 film—does feature a few passages of dream-like choreography from the cast. But, Scottish accents aside, this fable—currently playing at St. Ann?s Warehouse in Brooklyn, N.Y.— otherwise hews closely, wisely, and in song-free fashion to the original, camp-free texts.
Cristian Ortega stars as Oskar, the bullied, awkward and all-around sad-sack child of divorced parents who starts to fall for his new neighbor, Eli (Rebecca Benson). The problem? Eli is a vampire who relies on her aging protector Hakan (Cliff Burnett) to supply her with blood from the people he murders. What ensues is a love story like no other—a harsh, gritty, troubling, and nicely terrifying affair. Indeed, while audiences are warned that Let The Right One In features haze, fog, stage blood, and high volume sound effects, it might also be wise to warn audiences that Let The Right One In also boasts at least one scare capable of forcing some folks to reach for their heart medication.
So much here is deserving of praise, from the show’s ominous soundtrack to its inventive stage design to the contributions of the supporting cast, not least Gavin Kean, who pulls double-duty as both a cop and teacher. But this show belongs to its leads and, in particular, Benson, whose depiction of Eli as part monster, part innocent wildling, and part believable object of desire is simply killer. B+