WELCOME ELI TO THE BAY AREA. WE FINALLY HAVE A RESIDENT VAMPIRE THAT IS TRULY SENSATIONAL
‘Let the Right One In’ is the Romeo and Juliet of Vampire love stories. The two leads, Noah Lamanna and Diego Lucano are incredible.
Review by Vince Mediaa
A very foggy dreamscape of dark woods is taking up Berkeley Rep Roda stage this summer theatre season. Finally the American Theatre community can welcome a Vampire who is phenomenal. There was LaStat a few years back that lasted a few minutes on Broadway, but the Berkeley Rep has the real thing. This is The National Theatre of Scotland Production Based on the Novel and Film by John Ajvide Lindquist, Jack Thornes’, Stage Adaptation of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. An American film followed with a rich TV series on Showtime featuring an hispanic family that has been renewed for a second season.
The blood is deep and red, the incredible Noah Lamanna plays Eli who spends her days locked in a trunk and her nights hungry for blood. DIrected by the accomplished John Tiffany LET THE RIGHT ONE IN now at Berkeley Repertory Roda Theatre through June 25, is a thrilling vampire love story where blood does not upstage the darker, more chilling subtext.
A simple love story “boy meets girl’ even Romeo and Juliet came to mind as I watched their first meeting. The brilliant Diego Lucano plays a teenager Oskar, a bullied boy who is referred to as piggy, with an alcoholic mom and a dad not in the home. His new neighbor in his apartment complex is Eli with her uncertain companion. In the vampire world this would be her “familiar” played by the sinister Richard Topol, a very incestuous friend.
Eli and Oskar are living in the same linear storyline, they meet each other one snowy cold night at the playground outside their apartments. Both fish out of water the dialogue is quiet and real - two teens meet and the boy watches Eli with wide eyed curiosity. Eli notices blood on the boy's shirt, he was bullied by two classmates before meeting his new friend. The bully scenes are more frightening than the many kills that Eli does. I couldn’t watch Oskar being tortured and his face being rubbed in a sandbox its very disturbing. Oskar tells Eli “you sound like an old person”; Lucano shows amazing skills in playing a younger boy abused by everyone except his coach and his Vampire friend. Eli admits to Oskar that she is neither girl or a boy, confused by his feelings for his new friend he asks his coach played by the ideal Julius Thomas III, he asks “is it ok to like another boy” who responds with support.
The woods are dream-like and the supporting cast spends some beautiful moments telling the story with Steven Hoggett breathtaking ballet and movement. Lamanna erratic praying mantis twitches and body movement is compelling. When Eli feeds it is an unforgettable experience beautifully constructed by Jeremy Chernick special effects with blood dripping fountains. An awesome cast supports the story, many playing double roles. The distinguished Nicole Shalhoub is Oskar’s protective Mom who has her own incest with her son especially when she is drunk. Erik Hellman plays his Dad whose anger is short with his son. Julius Thomas III also plays Halmberg, the detective following the path of killings and Eli’s wrath. Jack Difalco, Jon Demegillo, and Michael Johnston are more monstrous than Eli as they play Oskar’s full force bullies.
The plays show stopping performances are both from Diego Lucano and Noah Lamanna; they are both remarkable as Oskar and Eli. Their timing is simple and easy with quiet pauses of affection and curiosity. An extra note about the marvelous Lucano who had three days to create Oskar replacing the original who got a television series. There was a script assistant in the front row cuing him at all previews and by opening he had it nailed. The craft team fresh from creating the Harry Potter play includes a cold dream-like forest designed by Christine Jones and the snow drift lighting by Chahine Yavroyan with a beautiful eerie sound design by Garteth Fry, as Eli pounces and feeds; the sound will lift you from your seat. The original music moves the story composed by Olafur Arnalds and Arnor Dan Arnarson. Aileen Sherry’s costume designs are layers of winter clothes yet Eli is in a blood stained T shirt and simple pants “I don’t feel the cold” she tells Oskar. The boy is also fast to tell his new friend that she smells like a wet dog. Eli makes sure to smell better as they continue their friendship.
The two connect from both their dark paths as Oskar sleeps outside Eli’s trunk,. tears filled my emotions. LET THE RIGHT ONE IN is a welcome new stage adaptation. One of the successful times we get to see a Vampire set a new pattern for our view of a popular story line that has not been successful on a live stage until now. This Vampire and its young friend are going to sweep the American Theatre when it opens on Broadway. Congratulations Eli you will have a delicious time while visiting Berkeley, but a hearty time feeding from New York audiences. This is a must see and don’t sit in the front row unless you have a crucifix.
THE BERKELEY REPERTORY THEATRE
And The National Theatre of Scotland
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
Based on the novel and film by John Ajvide Lindqviat
Adapted by Jack Thorne
Directed by John Tiffany
Movement by Steven Hoggett
Must close June 25th
Berkeley Rep's Roda Stage,
2025 Addison St.
Running time: 2 hours, two acts one intermission
25.00 Front Row seats on sale Mondays at noon
Insta video clips https://www.instagram.com/berkeleyrep/
Photos by Kevin Berne