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Review of Let The Right One In at the Apollo Theatre, London

I was in London again sooner than anticipated after getting an opportunity to see an understudy performance (more on this in the next blog), so I took the opportunity to see a play that had just missed out to 1984 (review here) on my previous visit.

Let The Right One at the Apollo could be best described as a vampire romance. Based on the novel and subsequent film (which I have not seen) by John Ajvide Lindqvist it tells the tale of a bullied teen Oskar played by Martin Quinn and his encounter with the mysterious Eli played by Rebecca Benson. What follows is a captivating and charming romance set to a background of vampiric intent.

Quinn, staggeringly making his stage debut, is confident, funny and highly skilled in his performance. This role challenging him to the extreme in both performance and physicality. The final scene at the swimming pool is one of challenge and stamina and Quinn rises to it superbly. Benson as the mysterious Eli is quite simply superb, offering a very special vocalisation and physical movement to the role that is nothing short of a delight. To call scenes in a so-called vampire based play beautiful might seem odd, but that is all that can be said of scenes like the "dance with me" scene between Quinn and Benson. Their scenes together are both captivating and belie their age in the quality of their performance.

The rest of the cast do not drop the standard across the board with Clive Mendus as Eli's "father" both disturbing and sorrowful as he goes about his business of fulfilling Eli's needs. Likewise Susan Vidler as Mum is both in turn funny and sad in her performance.

The set is a wonder to just see on entry to the theatre even before the play begins. Designer Christine Jones has come up a multi-purpose forest which offers through John Tiffany's superb direction all that we need from the play, whether it be forest, sweetshop, swimming pool or bedroom. Indeed the clever switching of scenes in the forest is even joked upon in play: "Never mind the shoes, there's a bed!"

Associate director Steven Hoggett also brings some rather stunning and balletic scenes of choreographed movement to bear which some might say are out of place, but to me are just beautiful (that word again). The music from Olafur Arnalds is perfectly in keeping with the performance, quiet and gentle where needed and terrifyingly powerful when required and yes I jumped! You will know what I mean if you see the play.

Finally a mention of the horror, there is some yes and this for some might be the reason some would not see this play. However the work of the vampire, provided by special effects man Jeremy Chernick, while clearly bloody, happens rarely and for me would not be a reason to miss this delight of a play. This is no bloodbath of a Saw or a Tarantino.

Overall one of the best plays I have seen in the last few months with two of the most talented stars in the leads. A vampire tale with a bite, but more of a love bite, and one you should go and be nibbled by.

Performance viewed: Thursday 7th August 2014 at the Apollo, London.

Let The Right One In continues at the Apollo Theatre, London until 30th August, 2014. Details can be found at http://www.apollotheatrelondon.co.uk/let-the-right-one-in/



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