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From the opening scene, this curiously uplifting inhuman drama is so much more than your typical vampire story. The stage adaptation of John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel is a masterpiece of plot and character interwoven with current reality.

It is a remarkably observed tale centred around Oskar: a bullied boy on the verge of adolescence who shoplifts for therapy. The beauty lies in the friendship he strikes up with Eli: the girl next door who just happens to be a centuries old vampire, stuck in a twelve year old girl/boy body, forever frozen in childhood.

The fragility of these two young and desperately lonely figures, and their attempts to get through each day, given the harsh reality of their lives, lies the absolute strength of this play.

Set in Scandinavia, the silver-birched woodland scene is brought alive as a stark cold forest at night. The light dusting of snow on the ground, illuminated by icy blue light, added to the cold chill reverberating around the Dundee Rep. It gave the work room to breathe and made this feel very real.

A string of ritual slayings on the towns misfits occur, where the victims are hoisted up in the trees by their feet, throats slashed and blood drained like pigs. It doesn’t take long for a connection to be made between the murders and Eli’s ‘guardian’ Hakan.

On the surface what appears to be a direct narrative, yet taken in context with all the implications surrounding it, the drama becomes a densely layered morality tale that resonates in a fundamental way with our emotional compass. Under John Tiffany’s direction it describes love, loneliness and violent realism with its strong cast of characters. Utterly engaging, we begin to care for and have empathy with the protagonist.

A very pure piece of theatre which incorporates rejection, friendship, loyalty and just how far you would be prepared to go for someone you love.

Dundee Rep Theatre

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