This Swedish novel already enjoys success in book sales, two film adaptations and a stage production and this latest effort is by the National Theatre of Scotland. Directed by John Tiffany, the story of friendship between the boy Oskar and a century old vampire girl Eli is transported to Scotland and retains the Nordic aesthetic with much help from music by Ólafur Arnalds. The beautiful snow covered woodland set by Christine Jones is the perfect backdrop and the transformation of the climbing frame into a swimming pool is an inspired piece of theatrical design.
The focus of the production is on the mood and atmosphere it generates, with stylistic choreography intersperses throughout the play. This is successful in so far as it evokes some of the themes and emotions addressed such as loneliness, bullying and being an outsider. However, this sacrifices the narrative drive as the economical script losses its sight on relationship and character development which is particularly true in the first half. Ultimately, the friendship and love between Oskar and Eli fails to convince even though their individual emotions and feelings is clear. It is a difficult balance to achieve and the production succeeds in design and creating a memorable mood piece if nothing else.