The National Theatre of Scotland’s Let The Right One In at Dundee Rep is beautiful and badass.
I shouldn’t have liked it because it’s about vampires and my interest in that sort of thing is limited at best. I hadn’t read the book or seen the film, so I don’t know if it was a good adaptation or even if it was supposed to be. But I did like it a lot.
There’s a boy, Oskar, and he is horrendously bullied and he’s got it a bit rough with his parents. Then there’s a girl, Eli, who is not really a girl and not at all young. They meet, and even though Oskar tells her she smells like infected plasters, they form a connection that is the fourteen year old boy’s equivalent of love, or possibly something stronger than love. However, she is a vampire. She doesn’t like to be called one, probably because of all the negative connotations. She does kill several people, mind, and many more are killed in order to sustain her, as well. On occasion, it is properly fucking brutal. I don’t want to explain everything that happens because if you haven’t seen the film or read the book it is chilling and often surprising. Especially when there’s dubstep.
There’s a heaviness to the dialogue. Words are not overused or even slightly flowery, and the chat between Oskar and Eli is mostly the word ‘OK’ uttered with varying levels of emotion. It feels raw and poetic in its simplicity, while also very Scottish and very teenage. There’s this INCREDIBLE, slightly bizarre choreographed movement that connects the characters to create this sense of the community that is being shattered while bringing a heightened sense of the supernatural (I think). Regardless of purpose, it is gorgeous. The music is equally as stunning as the movement and often makes your heart race. The set is Scandinavian inspired, with towering white trees dotted around a snowy field. Sometimes Eli climbs the trees and sits like a koala, watching events unfold from a silent distant. Though simple and rarely the focus, these are my favourite parts: there is a desperate intensity as she watches that is captivating, and when the light hits her just a little, leaving most of her small frame in shadow, it is absolutely and utterly beautiful.
I have a friend who worked on Let the Right One In, doing special effects. She says the amazing thing about it is that there are school groups full of kids who never go to the theatre and who, in a lot of cases, are from pretty rough backgrounds and they adore it. While I can’t say whether this is true because I am neither a teenager nor from a rough background, I can see why this would be the case. There’s this awkwardness to the main duo, and this relatability to their uncertain romance where neither of them really understand it but both know they want it obsessively. It’s both hopeful and bleak: Oskar is miserable, and Eli brings him hope and affection and fights for him, but we’ve seen the future of Eli’s relationships and it’s grim. Again, this is one of those confusingly common feelings, I think. This knowledge that things in the future will be shit if your pursue something, but the need and desire to pursue it. Plus, it’s sometimes funny and there’s loads of blood and an awesome bit with water and dubstep and strobe. When I was, like, 15 I probably would’ve been into that and I’m pretty into it now, at 21.
What I’m saying, really, is that I just thought it was a very good production. Even if it’s about vampires. That’s probably not the most interesting thing to say. There are points to be made about Scottish theatre and its future, but not here or from me. I thought about it for a long time, and how to make this write up more than just saying it’s amazeballs. I couldn’t think of anything I really wanted to write, because for Let the Right One In saying that is was just really fucking good seemed like the best thing to say. It is beautiful and it is badass and that is enough.