Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
Not alive, but not quite dead enough
The last offering for 2017 from the Black Swan Theatre Company is an adaptation by Jack Thorne of Swedish novelist John Ajvide Lindqvist's Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In).
It's no spoiler to say this is a play about vampires - or one specific vampire in particular. Ordinarily this might be the denouement, but here it seems to be pretty much background. If you didn't guess the photo in the programme of the actress playing Eli (Sophia Forrest) dripping blood while crouched over a body kind of hints.
Sophia Forrest and Maitland Schnaars (Photograph by Daniel J Grant)
The story is very simple - boy meets girl, girl turns out to be vampire, everyone lives happily ever after except for those that die.
I confess freely that I have not read the book, either in the original Swedish, nor in translation, nor have I seen the original Swedish movie made from the novel, but unless a whole amount of the plot was left out of the playscript the plot is far from complex.
To make up for the simplicity of the plot, the staging is incredibly complex and impressive, designed by experienced set designer Bruce McKinven, who has an impressive resume and whose work on this set is outstanding.
Cast of Let The Right One In (Photograph by Daniel J Grant)
The set is on three levels, roughly in the form of an apartment block, but flexible enough in outline to be a block of flats, a school, a forest, a hospital, a swimming pool and a sweet shop. Practical enough for actors to climb up, dance on and murder in.
The lighting showed the same level of innovation and invention with blood effects that are truly disturbing, snow flakes falling, a silver birch forest and rough concrete.
So compelling were the effects that the action felt like an excuse for them, rather than an enhancement of the action and characterisation development.
The acting, with the exception of WAAPA graduate Sophia Forrest never rose much above workmanlike, paling somewhat by comparison with Ms Forrest who was amazing as Eli, the blood drinker.
Ian Michael as Oscar was convincing as a bullied lad of indeterminate age and the scenes where he was tormented were among the most discomforting and compelling.
My companion. who is not a regular play-goer, came up with the theory that the director (Clare Watson) deliberately made Eli more vivid and alive than the rest by way of hightened contrast. It's an interesting thought.
The locus of the play has been transferred to Australia (going by the accents) but the setting of a frigid climate, snow and bleakness has been retained, which makes it a trifle disconcerting as it snows so seldom in Perth.
All in all, a thought-proking and impressive production that should have audiences talking for a while.
The title of the play refers to the superstition that vampires cannot enter a home uninvited.
Let The Right One In runs at the Heath Ledger Theatre, William Street, Northbridge until the 3rd December. Ticket prices and show times are variable - consult the website here.
Maitland Schnaars. Sophia Forrest and Ian Michael (Photograph by Daniel J Grant)
Incidentally, I've seen a preview of next year's production list and it's excellent - a mixture of the familiar and experimental.