Dundee Rep 5 stars When a bullied boy meets the strangest of girls in the woods at night, they are instantly drawn to each other. Yet, in Jack Thorne's stage adaptation of Swedish writer John Ajvide Lindqvist's novel and feature film, things are even more peculiar than mere adolescent awkwardness. While Oskar comes from a broken home where his mother gets by with a glass in her hand, his new neighbour Eli has her own dysfunctional relationship with an apparent father figure who brings her fresh blood. With a serial killer on the loose, Oskar and Eli eke out a quiet form of co-dependence while all about them is turmoil. Fans of Lindqvist's work will already know the outcome of Oskar and Eli's story, but John Tiffany's exquisitely realised production for the National Theatre of Scotland in association with Dundee Rep transcends its source to become a rich and beautiful theatrical experience that is by turns gripping and tender. The forest has long been a symbol of dark and dangerous awakenings, and is stunningly realised on Christine Jones' set that gives it the air of other-worldly fairytales. This is accentuated, both by Chahine Yavroyen's moody lighting and Olafur Arnalds' gorgeous music. Associate Director Steven Hoggett's impressionistic choreography too becomes as vital as some spell-binding technical wizardry. At the play's heart, however, is Tiffany's heroic cast of nine, led by a pair of heart-rending central performances by Martin Quinn and Rebecca Benson as Oskar and Eli. As Tiffany's final production for the NTS at least for the time being, this moving and haunting piece of work is the loveliest going away present he could have given.
The Herald, June 10th 2013 ends