Theater Review: Let The Right One In by Kai
Live Theater Review!
Let The Right One In
by Jack Thorne based on the Swedish Novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist
On stage Oct. 12 – Nov. 4
At The Hippodrome in Gainesville.
Reviewed by: Kai
I had the pleasure of seeing this on my birthday during previews. I have to disclose right at the top I had not read the Swedish book this was based on or the Swedish movie adaptation that found a bunch of festival success or the American remake of it. Honestly, I think having not seen it helped. I probably would have been comparing the two incessantly in the back of my head. At intermission there was a couple filing out behind us and I heard the boyfriend rattling off a list of differences to both movies.
For me, this really worked.
The horror genre up close is magical. Rather I could say, it can be magical which this piece achieved for me.. Not for the same reasons one might enjoy a haunted house where things pop out at you, and then you wonder when other things might pop out at you.
The driving sense of dread that drew me in, other than a suspected serial killer on the loose, is of Oskar (played by Ben Tracy) the co-lead and his being horrifically bullied. The bullies Jonny (Gregory Buckheit) and Micke (Orlando Mendez) add a fantastic layer of fear that they might appear all of a sudden and humiliate Oskar or injure him for fun. This is on top of there being a literal vampire roaming around of which most of the story revolves around.
The Hippodrome is an In The Round Theater, putting the audience on 3 sides for most of the action and you could feel so many good choices having been made in the choreographed pieces in the sometimes tight space, but they made amazing use of it.
There are Interpretive Movement elements deployed that were placed with such restraint that I was moved by their presence. When used in not only navigating their space, but adding accent to scenes. For example, one scene with Oskar feeling alienated from his parents and alone, the bullies just show up menacing poses in the background forest in the gentlest accent of potential terror.
The person investigating mysterious deaths in the woods, Detective Halmberg (Charlie Mitchell) at an act break where he is not the main focus of the part of the scene does an expressive pose to cover his eyes as if to indicate the truth is hidden from him and with the music, was just such a good extension of that character’s drive and dilemma.
Oh! And this is about vampires, or vampire, in the singular. A girl named Eli played by Marissa Too good. She was so pressingly watchable it transformed whole scenes. Eli and Oskar’s chemistry was unmistakable and watching these what I would assume were middle schoolers? Cycle through an entire relationship was so well placed it lead to my one complaint about this show.
They through the lines and way they play the characters play 11 or 13 year olds convincingly, disappearing backward in development, it added Age-Confusion when the bullies were around. They seemed to be High school, even college age.
This lead to questions as there are relationships all over this movie where knowing exact ages would frame your opinions of it differently.
That aside, I have to say the thing that has struck me in such a twisted way was Charlie Mitchell’s other role which was coach Avila. There is a short movie I would like to see based on Coach Avila that I’ve only seen in this play called “A coach has the worst week of his life” which caused me to laugh at an inappropriate moment, but it was so upsetting because I LOVED the coach so much. His efforts, his oversights, so good.
Four out of Five Stars.
Eli… Marissa Toogood*
Oskar… Ben Tracy*
Mum… Stephanie Lynge*
Jonny… Gregory Buckheit
Micke… Orlando Mendez
Hakan / Oskar’s Dad… Clint Thornton
Halmberg / Avila… Charlie Mitchell
Torkel/Nils/Janne/Jimmy/Jocke… Niall McGinty
Stefan/Kurt… Bryan Mercer
* Denotes Member of Actors’ Equity Association
Director… Lauren Warhol Caldwell
AEA Stage Manager… Lizzi Nehls*
Assistant Stage Manager… Abby M. Schneck
Production Manager/Lighting Designer… Robert P. Robins
Technical Director… Michael Eaddy
Scenic Designer… Mihai Ciupe
Scenic Designer Assist… Peta McKenna
Costume Designer/Costume Shop Foreman … Stephanie Parks
Costume Shop Adviser… Jessica Kreitzer
Props Designer… Colton Spurlock
Master Electrician… Neil Bearden
Mix Engineer… Amanda Yanes
Wardrobe… Nichole Williams
Wardrobe… Tori Lewis