“Let The Right One In” On Stage

March 2011 sees the third adaptation of John Ajvide Linqvist’s “Let The Right One In” appear before audiences, in nearly as many years. First was the much-acclaimed motion picture for which Linqvist wrote the screenplay. Next was the controversial but generally applauded American adaptation, transplanting the story from Sweden to New Mexico, “Let Me In.” Now a stage production is in the works.

The city of Uppsala is one to inspire in most Americans (and others) a blank look on the face. In fact it is an important place, capital of its county as well as the seat of the Archbishop of Sweden and the site of the oldest university in Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland). At 70 kilometers north of Stockholm, it is also in the same (very) general vicinity as Blackeberg, hometown of the novel’s author as well as the setting of his bestselling vampire tale. Uppsala is a university town, with a thriving cultural life including the theatre company now preparing the play of “Let The Right One In.”

A press release reads “Welcome into the theater’s basement into a cruel and poignant beautiful theater experience.” Jakob Hultcrantz Hansson is both writing and directing the play. One possible source of controversy in the new production is the decision to cast adults as the two twelve-year-old leads. Theatrically, this is far from unusual. Adults are often cast as children in such plays as “Cloud Nine” by Caryl Churchill and the musical “You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown,” while Peter Pan is nearly always played by an adult woman. The late screenwriter Dennis Potter (“The Singing Detective” “Pennies From Heaven” and “Brimstone and Treacle”) used the same conceit in his teleplay “Blue Remembered Hills” as well as his last work, “Cold Lazarus.”

Oscar, a twelve-year-old boy, will be portrayed by Elisabeth Wernesjö (who with short hair might easily pass for a prepubescent boy). Interestingly, Tomas Alfredson (who directed the Swedish film) decried in an interview the lack of professional child actors in Sweden.

You can see a very surreal trailer for the play below.

The theater company’s website explains the story this way: A frost-bitten winter evening brings Oscar’s new neighbor, Eli. He is a lonely and vulnerable 12-year-old boy. She is a vampire who’s lived for two centuries. A bloodstained tale for forbidden love, evil and unbridled lust. But also about courage and friendship.

Lindqvist also wrote a kind of epilogue to his novel, a short story titled “Let The Old Dreams Die” (from the same Morrison song which gave the book its name) to be published this Spring in the United States in a collection called “Paper Walls” from Thomas Dunn Books/St. Martin’s Press. Picking up almost immediately after the book ends, it relates what kind of relationship Oscar and his undead paramour eventually develop–and whether it lasts. Meanwhile, those who can make to Uppsala between now and end of May might have a chance to see yet another version of this ground-breaking vampire novel.

By david

David MacDowell Blue blogs at Night Tinted Glasses.  He graduated from the National Shakespeare Conservatory and is the author of The Annotated Carmilla. and Your Vampire Story (And How to Write It) as well as a theatrical adaptation of Carmilla.


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