Robrt Pela Review: 'Let The Right One In' At Stray Cat Theatre

Published: Monday, April 29, 2019 - 6:46am
Updated: Monday, April 29, 2019 - 9:38am
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There‘s a new production of a gory story. It’s called “Let the Right One In” and theater critic Robrt Pela has this review:

Something happened to the young man slated to play the lead in "Let the Right One In" — no one at Stray Cat Theatre is saying exactly what — and he was replaced on opening night by an actor named Nathaniel Smith.

The young man wandered and climbed the stage with script in hand, but no matter. If his performance was hesitant and slightly awkward, so too was the character he was playing. The result was a fresh and honest depiction of a bullied teen who’s trying to find himself in suburban America.

While it’s impressive that this young actor performed so well in an 11th-hour situation, Stray Cat’s production of Jack Thorne’s dark drama belongs to Britney Watson and Duane Daniels. As a creepy pair who might be father and daughter, they create a canny set of scenes that help elevate an otherwise ordinary story.

The play is based on the 2004 novel of the same name by John Lindqvist, and on the author’s screenplay for a 2008 Swedish film adaptation. "Let the Right One In" will appeal to fans of vampire fiction and those who like their romance to include a certain amount of gore. The blood in Stray Cat’s production, nicely directed by the company’s artistic director, Ron May, is mostly contained. This makes for quicker stage cleanup, I imagine, though I doubt I’ll ever look at a steel bucket quite the same way again.

But back to Watson and Daniels. You might know Daniels for his work in the film and TV series "Veronica Mars." Here, he plays a shifty slob who skulks about Aaron Sheckler’s cold, versatile set, the whites of his eyes illuminating shadows created by Dallas Robert Nichols. Daniels suggests evil with some subtlety: the set of his shoulders, the grumble of his voice.

When it looked like his character wouldn’t be returning in act two, I was disappointed. When did he returned, he was joined by Watson, whose own sinister subtleties play counterpoint to Daniels’. She’s a needy bundle of nerves, all rushed dialogue and frantic motion one moment, the quiet, evil eye of a hurricane in the next. I imagine that, by now, Nathaniel Smith has set down his script. But no matter how fine his performance, I defy you to look away from his two co-stars.

"Let the Right One In" plays at Stray Cat Theatre through May 4, 2019.

Robrt Pela’s reviews appear in the Phoenix New Times

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