THE TURN OF THE SCREW
by Henry James adapted Adrian Lloyd-James.
Pomegranate Theatre Corporation Street S41 7TX To 8 February 2014.
Runs: 1hr 20min No interval.
Review: Alan Geary: 8 February.
A faithful rendering of the Henry James classic, well-acted and atmospheric.
Save for the omission of one or two minor characters, Adrian Lloyd-James’s adaptation of The Turn of the Screw is nicely faithful to Henry James’ novella. A young, un-named woman starts work at an isolated country house as governess to two angelic children, a brother and sister. But it appears to be haunted by the ghosts of a previous employee and the former governess, both of whom died in disturbing circumstances.
Background sound consists of snatches of childish piano playing, ‘I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In’ and so on. Also chilling is an adaptable gothic ruin set – all very black and Victorian, as are the costumes. Lighting is thematically important in James’ novella; it is here as well.
Sexual tension runs through the piece. There’s the initial interview between the governess and her mysterious employer when the suggestion of seduction is overt; Jane Eyre comes to mind then, and is openly mentioned later. And the possibility of some form of molestation hangs heavily over the rest of play.
Ambiguity is a key feature. What do people mean by their often unfinished sentences? Why was the angelic Miles expelled from boarding school? Are the apparitions real, or are they a function of a disturbed mind? Or perhaps the governess is the victim of a conspiracy – the original book leaves these and other questions unanswered, likewise the play.
Sarah Wynne Kordas is the governess in a triumphant performance. She has a beautifully clear voice, controlled and modulated according to mood and atmosphere. Adaptor Adrian Lloyd-James handles the all other parts including the employer, the housekeeper Mrs Grose and the boy Miles with skill in Karen Henson’s production for Tabs Productions.
The Woman: Sarah Wynne Kordas.
The Man: Adrian Lloyd-James.
Director/Sound: Karen Henson.
Designer: Geoff Gilder/ Sarah Wynne Kordas.
Lighting: Keith Tuttle.
Sound: David Gilbrook.