West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds – Until 24th March 2018. Reviewed By Dawn Smallwood
Henry James’ classic ghost story comes alive on stage for a week at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds. Tim Luscombe’s adaptation tells the story about a young Governess (Carli Norris) who comes to Bly to look after Flora (Annabel Smith) and Miles (Michael Hanratty), two orphaned children, and the place appears peaceful and perfect. Soon after the Governess settles in things become unsettled and the household including Mrs Grose (Maggie McCarthy) has additional company, ghosts of a troubled past. The events make the Governess more determined to protect the two children even at all costs.
The play, under the direction of Daniel Buckroyd and produced by Dermot McLaughlin , opens with both the Governess and Flora who, a number of years later, confront each other with past events at Bly and both uncomfortably narrate what actually happened. During their conversations there are past flashbacks of events when the young Governess looked after the children and the decisions and emotions have been relived amid a dark and sinister setting.
Sara Perks’ staging is excellent and creates the atmospheric ambience for the nature of the play with the use of lighting, music and soundscapes, courtesy of Matt Leventhall and John Chambers, being applied for ghostly and scary touches of the story. The four person cast do a stellar performance with some doubling up as two characters and their accounts are articulately portrayed.
Turn of the Screw is more than a ghost story as it explores the characters thoroughly with touches of suspense, supernatural and obscurities of fantasy and reality. The audience is encouraged to think of the underlying themes raised for each of the characters, particularly the Governess, which are never shared except for suggestive texts and innuendo’s.
It is certainly a thought provoking play with a scope for personal interpretation of events and its circumstances that happened at Bly when The Governess took care of the children. This production is currently touring and is recommendable to go and see.