I saw this play at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn on 1/22. It’s an adaptation of a Swedish novel and film with the same title. My brother Howard told me about the movie, and it’s fantastic. Howard describes it perfectly: it’s not really a vampire movie, it’s a coming-of-age movie in which one of the characters happens to be a vampire. The tone of the movie is unique for a horror movie: it’s quiet, tender, ominous. There are just a few, brief, brutal moments of violence, and they have great impact.
The play was produced by the National Theatre of Scotland. I enjoyed it a lot. St. Ann’s is a smallish space, great intimacy. The audience was full of Brooklyn hipsters, and this was the show for them. The staging was inventive without being overly clever - - the only problem with the staging was the dancing. The director inserted two short segments of modern dancing that added nothing to the experience and only served to annoy me. Thankfully they were brief.
The high point of the show: the vampire (a 12-year old girl) is in a box, a cop sees her in there, is freaked out, she says, “Help me, help me” in a wounded, little girl voice. All of this in absolute eerie silence. He kneels down on the floor in front of the box and her hand darts up to his throat, and a loud, thrashing bit of music at that precise moment. Took my breath away. I may have shrieked, but I’m not sure.
Another moment of what I hope was stage magic at the end - - the climax of the story takes place in a swimming pool. I was wondering how they’d stage that, especially since the stage was filled mostly with birch trees and fake snow. There was one set piece, a sort of industrial-looking assembly of pipes that the two teenagers used for their outdoor conversations. This set piece spun around at the end of the show, revealing a glass tank. The tank filled with water, or at least appeared to fill with water. The young man playing the lead boy got in the water and appeared to stay underwater for about two minutes. I didn’t see any bubbles coming out of his mouth. I don’t know how they did this - - maybe the tank only filled with water on the front and the sides? Maybe the whole thing was a video projection? Or gosh, maybe they actually hired an actor who could hold his breath underwater for two minutes? Whatever they did, it was damn effective.
All of the performances were very strong, especially from the two leads. The woman who played the vampire had a wonderful raspy voice and a flat yet urgent way of speaking. I’d love to see her in something else, and to that end am writing down her name right now: Rebecca Benson. The real highlight of the show was hearing those delicious Scottish accents. My favorite line: “Are you a pervert?” became “Are yew a pairrrrvairrrrt?”