Let the Right One In re-written for stage by Dundee Rep

John Tiffany and Steven Hoggett adapt Swedish vampire romance

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Let the Right One In re-written for stage by Dundee Rep

Photo: Albert Watson

Their screen-to-stage adaptation of Once won eight Tony Awards in 2012. Now, John Tiffany and Steven Hoggett are giving another cult film a theatrical makeover: Swedish vampire romance Let the Right One In. Adapted by John Ajvide Lindqvist from his own novel, Tomas Alfredson’s 2008 film won over critics worldwide – and Matt Reeves 2010 Hollywood remake, Let Me In, was similarly praised. But while Reeves transposed Lindqvist’s story to the USA, this National Theatre of Scotland production retains the original’s Swedish setting, although Tiffany sees parallels between their landscape and ours.

‘My first thought was that it would work well in Dundee,’ he says. ‘Tentsmuir Forest and the beach round there has always struck me as very Scandinavian. So I commissioned Jack Thorne to adapt it, and got Steven Hoggett on board and here we are.’

Playwright and screenwriter Thorne also had a streak of award-wins last year, receiving Baftas for the BBC’s supernatural teen drama The Fades and This is England ’88, which he co-wrote with Shane Meadows. But he’s still in awe of Tiffany, who was the first person to take a meeting with him when he started his career.

‘Honestly, I’d says yes to anything John asked me to do because I think he’s incredible,’ says Thorne. ‘I think John casts his writers in the same way he casts his actors. So with Once, he’d go “The person to do this is Enda [Walsh, who wrote the book] who’s musical, lyrical, Irish and sees the world in this extraordinary way”. And then he thought “I’m doing this play about loneliness, weirdness and self-hatred – Jack is probably right for this.”’

Loneliness is at the core of Let the Right One In, which centres on the blossoming relationship between Oskar – a young boy who’s neglected by his parents and bullied by his peers – and Eli, the vampire who moves in next door. Both Thorne and Tiffany have a deep reverence for the tale in its many forms. ‘I just think Lindqvist found a way to tell a contemporary fairy story about difference that no one had considered before,’ explains Thorne, ‘It fits in with the mythology of vampires but it does so in such an extraordinary and different way that I think it hit a lot of people between the eyes.’

For now, Let the Right One In looks like Tiffany’s last show with the NTS. This summer, the former associate director – who directed the company’s biggest hit to date, Black Watch – leaves Scotland to join ex-NTS Artistic Director Vicky Featherstone at London’s Royal Court. But he’s assembled a stellar team for his swan song. In addition to Thorne and Hoggett, Broadway set designer Christine Jones (who’s worked on Spring Awakening and American Idiot) and Icelandic composer Olafur Arnalds (who recently wrote the score for hit ITV drama Broadchurch) are also on board, while Deacon Blue singer-turned-actress Lorraine M McIntosh will play Oskar’s mother.

‘I’ve been in Glasgow since I was 18, on and off,’ says Tiffany, ‘and I’m accepting that I need to be in London now. But I’ll always come back. Macbeth’s got a life, Black Watch isn’t showing any sign of disappearing, Let the Right One In may have a future and there’s potentially new projects as well. So I’ll always have a relationship with Scotland.’

Let the Right One In, Dundee Rep, Dundee, Wed 5--Sat 29 Jun.

Let the Right One In

A book, then a film, then another film, now a play. John Ajvide Lindqvist's story of a young boy and his vampire love interest gets the theatre treatment from Dundee Rep and collaborators, who translate the Swedish setting to a Scottish one.

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