Jack Thorne’s adaptation of Let the Right One In is based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist (Låt den rätte komma in, 2004) and the subsequent Swedish-language film version (dir. Tomas Alfredson, 2008, with a screenplay by Lindqvist). It is a dark and visceral coming-of-age vampire love story tackling issues of teenage loneliness, bullying and sexuality.
It was commissioned by the National Theatre of Scotland and Marla Rubin Productions Ltd, and first produced by the National Theatre of Scotland by arrangement with Marla Rubin Productions Ltd and Bill Kenwright, in association with Dundee Rep Theatre, at Dundee Rep Theatre on 5 June 2013. It was subsequently produced at the Royal Court Theatre, London, and in the West End.
The play begins with a man being attacked on a woodland path. Then we meet Oskar, a lonely teenage boy who lives with his mother on a housing estate at the edge of town, and who is being badly bullied at school. News spreads through the neighbourhood of a spate of sinister killings. But Oskar is drawn to Eli, the young girl who has just moved in next door. Eli doesn’t go to school, and never leaves the flat by day. Sensing in each other a kindred spirit, the two become devoted friends. What Oskar doesn’t know is that Eli has been a teenager for a very long time.
Thorne's adaptation focuses on the close bond between the two misfit teenagers as their friendship blossoms into a tentative romance. He also gives a perhaps greater emphasis than Lindqvist to the bullying that Oskar receives at the hands of his classmates, developing the irony at the heart of the story: Eli might not be human, but she shows Oskar a human kindness that seems lacking in others around him.
The premiere production at Dundee Rep was directed by John Tiffany with choreography by associate director Steven Hoggett. It was designed by Christine Jones. The cast included Rebecca Benson as Eli and Martin Quinn as Oskar.
The production opened at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, London, on 29 November 2013, and transferred to the Apollo Theatre, London, on 7 April 2014 (previews from 26 March).
The production won the 2014 South Bank Sky Arts Award for Theatre.