Fangs are out! And it’s a bloody good time at University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music and Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s production of Let The Right One In by Jack Thorne. Inspired by the original novel that has since been adapted for film, this show is a brutalist look at growing up and finding the right one, fangs and all.
Let the Right One In tells the story of Oskar, a bullied 12 year-old boy living in suburban Sweden. When a mysterious new neighbor, Eli, moves in nextdoor, sparks eventually fly and the two bond over their feelings of isolation. At the same time, brutal murders have plagued the town, and as Eli and Oskar get closer, her true blood-sucking identity comes to light. Despite this, there’s an eerie sense of hope that permeates throughout, as the pair fall in love but face the sometimes bloody consequences that accompany it.
Oskar, played by CCM student Nathan Flesh, is our eyes for the story, and they see a wide array of emotions and experiences. Flesh’s dynamic portrayal of the destitute teen is complex and natural, balancing the show’s dark humor with a sense of longing. Eli, played by fellow student Lyd Noll, is the perfect dark force to counteract Oskar’s naivete. Noll is flat-out terrifying and rises to the occasion of their dark character, bloody fits of rage and all.
This show is also a collaboration with Cincinnati Shakespeare company, and the mature actors elevated this show. Hakan, played by Barry Mulholland, has one of the show’s grittier narratives, in constant lust toward Eli and blood. Mulholland is truly menacing, with a rich, layered dynamic with Noll that grounds the show’s premise; he also has one of the more impressive make-up elements in the show. These actors make the vampire tale feel fresh and new, despite being so lovingly portrayed in many teen romance novels.
You won’t find another production in Cincinnati with this level of precision, attention to detail, and world-building. The wigs (by Madeline Field, Michael Hamburg, Val Molloy) and costumes (by Elizabeth Payne), complement the other technical elements and are beautifully accurate homages to the 1980s Sweden, down to the viking bowl-cut.
You will also be amazed by the complex and constant video projections, designed by Andrew Gange. From free-falling snowflakes to blood seeping from the bricks, the show is a visual fear-inducing treat. The sound, designed and composed by Patrick Kiernan, makes sure the audience never leaves the suburban town, through long string ballads and synth waves that fill in the transitions. The lights and projections illuminate a brutalist backdrop in the scenery, designed by Charlie Calvert. Layered in subway tiles and featuring several impressive elements that rise and fall, the cold darkness of Sweden almost reaches out and envelopes you. All of these elements compounded together makes for a vividly unsettling and immersive atmosphere.
If you are a fan of horror or a former ‘Twilight’ fan, there is something in this show for you. When you can root for a blood-sucking vampire even as she rips out and eats a human heart, you know the production is doing something right. A perfect mixture of true crime, romance, and thrills that will ring in the Halloween season the right way–even if you don’t let in the right one.
Tickets to Let the Right One In
Be sure to catch this show, running two weekends through October 28 at UC-CCM. Get tickets HERE.