It can be difficult translating a film for the stage. Twice as difficult when that film is an adaptation of a story penned originally in Swedish. And challenging even more so when it’s a tale that deals with romance, murder and vampiric themes. But the Black Swan State Theatre Company do a remarkable job in delivering John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Let The Right One In for the stage.
The play’s premise is pretty convoluted. It’s 1981 and a lonely kid, Oskar, is having a very tough time being bullied at school. He meets a cheeky stranger in Eli, a girl who smells kind of funny and who encourages him to let his freak flag fly. Soon enough he learns Eli is beyond human, and that she possesses a thirst for blood that leads too regularly to murder. Yes, plenty of drama for a 12-year-old kid to experience at once, let alone having to deal with his own rites of passage.
While the cast of Let The Right One is fairly extensive, its two young leads – Ian Michael as Oskar and Sophia Forrest as Eli, both of whom debut with Black Swan – are the true stars of the show, keeping the convoluted story intact with not only articulate delivery of difficult dialogue but with occasional acrobatics and even dance moves.
Black Swan staple Stuart Halusz is also a stand-out in this production, playing not one, but three characters, shifting from one to the next with ease and absolute professionalism. Halusz is as comfortable playing a slasher victim as he is being lead detective or high school Phys Ed master, and it’s great to see him back on stage after a busy year directing theatre.
Aside from the obvious talent, there is one more star of this exceptional show: the music. Helping throw audiences into the early ’80s are classic songs by Foreigner, Blue Oyster Cult and The Divinyls, amongst other jukebox favourites – the lyrics of each track tying in nicely with what’s just happened or is about to happen on stage.
Combining clever lighting design (at one stage the apartment-style setting is lit up like a giant Rubik’s cube, other times the entire 20×30-foot backdrop is splattered with blood), quality sound, excellent acting, and a genre-hopping plot, Black Swan’s busy but brilliant version of Let The Right One In ought to be up for awards in just about every category. Antonino Tati
‘Let The Right One In’ is on at the Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of WA, until December 3, 2017.
Tickets available through Ticketek.com.au | or call 1300 795 012.
Photography by Daniel J Grant.