'Let Me In' - Now Playing at the PNCA Auditorium, Islamabad

'Let Me In' - Now Playing at the PNCA Auditorium, Islamabad
Click on the image to visit the play's official Facebook group.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Tulin Khalid-Azim's Review of 'Let Me In'

Veteran Islamabad theatre director and actress, Tulin Khalid-Azim, has written a wonderful review of Let Me In on her Facebook page. We've pasted an excerpt of the review below, but you can read the whole thing here.

A number of people like myself, who run a mile at the word "horror", went to see the play and enjoyed it thoroughly (Bushra Hassan for example, refer to her blog for her review). For those who like effects, fight scenes and gore, it was there. For those who don't, there was plenty of psychological suspense to make you sit on the edge of your seat. I enjoyed that the most - the questions going through my mind, almost not wanting to know what was going on because the torture of guessing at it was kind of fun. What exactly was the mist? Who was out there? Even though you saw it in front of your eyes, what was it?

The writing was very tight, and the timing and combination of light, comedic moments with the suspense and tension made the experience an emotional roller-coaster. The length was just perfect, a neat 1 hour 40 minutes, with no lagging or time for your mind to wander once the suspense was in motion.

With all the conspiracy theories that exist in the world today, and the talk of reptilians, extraterrestrials, "good vs. evil" (if you saw "The Arrivals", you'll know what I mean), the play felt very current to me. I felt it hit a nerve in today's society which many in the younger generation are aware of and can appreciate. Also, it hit a very sore socio-political nerve which exists in Pakistan today. For audience members like myself, who enjoy double-meanings, I loved the debates regarding dualities in religion. The tension between Mrs. Carmody and Sally was thoroughly entertaining. When things cannot be said upfront, the best kind of theater is the one that shines a very subversive mirror on something right in front of our faces without overtly pointing it out. If you, too, as a Pakistani feel that your nation is being taken over by a blinding and dangerous mist, you will no doubt enjoy the double-entendres in the play.

Another ground-breaking aspect of this production was the make-up used, the prosthetic make-up to be specific. My hat's off to Jibran Khan for pulling off such intricate and difficult make-up. The creatures were fantastic, and I did not find them comedic at all. If I came across that face to face, the last thing I'd do is laugh! Even up-close, when I went to meet Zainab Zaman after the play (whom I didn't recognize at all at first, and then was wondering "Is it her? Or isn't it?" throughout the play), the prosthetics were beyond impressive and creepy as can be. (Little-known fact: the prosthetics you see are only about half of what were meant to be used, and these too were recovered with great difficulty. The other half are probably sitting in some customs officer's house at the moment, God only knows to what end. Now you know what the joys of production are all about!)

The set was just the right side of minimalist, highly functional with attention to detail with the products on display - nothing too distracting. The soundtrack was chilling (and thanks, Osman, I can never sing "Twinkle Little Star" to my daughter again...sigh). The lighting was very clever, and I enjoyed the use of sectioned lighting to accent different parts of the action and highlight characters when necessary. The lightning was my favorite part, and I congratulate Aashir Irfan on spot-on execution of both concept and cues.

And, of course, the ACTING. This was ensemble acting at its very best. When they shone, they really shone. They connected with each other, supported one another, and worked as a team. No upstaging, no egos. For the first time, there were no "weak links", which is extremely difficult to achieve. I enjoyed everyone's acting immensely, especially in the core group. The usual suspects were their usual fantastic best - Saud, Ahmed, Sundus, Rubya, Mustafa, Waqas, Zainab, Eesa, Uzair, and of course, Osman. I'd like to, however, make special note of two newcomers (so-to-speak) who absolutely rocked it for me - Sofia Wanchoo Mir as Bible-toting zealot with Joan of Arc complex Mrs. Carmody, and Fareeha Raza as young Elizabeth (Fareeha herself is barely a teenager!). Kudos to you, ladies, for not only standing your own with a sophomore cast, but making your own mark. Bravo.

All in all, "Let Me In" is the perfect precursor to Halloween, and a very entertaining way to spend a hundred minutes. If you love horror, this will be a rare treat to witness live on stage in Pakistan. If you know, for a fact, that you cannot, under any circumstances stomach any kind of gore or emotional stress, then do the actors and yourself a favor, stay home, wear your coziest jammies, and watch reruns on Star World. And if you don't like horror, but enjoy a good play, and are feeling adventurous, do NOT give this one a miss. These guys will win you over, if you let them in.

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