REVIEW: “Let The Right One In” at CCM 

By Katrina “Kat” Reynolds

In a special collaboration with Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, the UC College-Conservatory of Music’s current production of Let The Right One In by Jack Thorne can be seen at the Patricia Corbett Theatre. Directed by CSC Artistic Director, Brian Isaac Phillips, the script is based on the book of the same name by John Ajvide Lindqvist.

For those unfamiliar with the story, the plot can be simply summarized as being the story of Oskar, a lonely and bullied young man who befriends a strange new neighbor. But is this new friend connected to a rash of murders plaguing the town?

The Production Team

A show like this relies heavily on the choices of the production team members. Scenic Designer Charlie Calvert has created an innovative set with set pieces built to move seamlessly. Unfortunately, scene changes are frequent and do not help to pick up the pace of the already slow-moving show. While it is evident the choice to keep the pace slower is to build up the momentum to action scenes, it can also take the audience out of the moment rather easily.

Well-deserved kudos to Lighting and Media Designer Andrew Gange. Choices made with lighting and projection are some of the more exciting aspects of the production. Complementing these choices is the expertise of Sound Designer and Composer, Patrick Kiernan. The musical compositions are eerie and beautiful at the same time and remind us that, while certain moments may make us smile, there is a sense of impending doom over the characters. Without revealing a spoiler, I was particularly impressed by both lighting and sound decisions regarding activity in the pool.

Eli, played by Lyd Noll, breaks down after her thirst for blood claims another victim "Let the Right One In"
Eli, played by Lyd Noll, breaks down after her thirst for blood claims another victim. Photos by Mark Lyons.

Special shout outs to Blood and FX Creator Ashley Crockett and Movement Coach Lucia Duque for their contributions to the aesthetics and grounding of the piece.

The Performing Artists

While these CCM students are working with some true CSC professionals, they are certainly able to hold their own. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, senior acting student Lyd Noll once again brings down the house with their performance of Eli, the strange neighbor Oskar meets one evening. Mx. Noll is one of the most promising soon-to-be graduates of the program and there is no doubt they will be very much in-demand on whichever stages they choose. Their performance, like every other actor on the stage, is filled with just a few too many pregnant pauses, but it is clear that is the director’s vision. Fortunately for us, Mx. Noll is still able to go in for the kill.

Lyd Noll as Eli and Nathan Flesh as Oskar in Let The Right One In presented by CCM.
Lyd Noll as Eli and Nathan Flesh as Oskar in Let The Right One In presented by CCM. Photo credit to Mark Lyons.

Shining brightly in a picture-perfect execution of the role of Halmberg, a police detective trying to solve the case of a possible serial killer, is guest artist and veteran actor Geoffrey Barnes. Enhanced by some of the truly innovative media choices, Mr. Barnes’ portrayal of the passionate and frustrated lawman is strong and memorable. He commands attention and keeps it. It is perhaps impactful because this role seems to be the one which breaks the pacing more often than not, but a less skilled actor may not have been able to navigate it as well as Mr. Barnes. 

The Bottom Line

If you are like me and enjoy things psychological and macabre, Let The Right One In may serve as a wonderful choice for an evening at the theatre in the cool month of October. In retrospect, I believe the slower pacing does offer a beautiful, almost lullaby type stillness so that the audience is nearly hypnotized, making the juxtaposition of the violence against it that much more impactful. (Yes, this quite literally just came to me as I write this.) 

Let The Right One In presented by CCM in partnership with Cincinnati Shakespeare Company will be performed at the Patricia Corbett Theatre now through October 28. Please visit the University of Cincinnati website to purchase tickets.