You know that a ghost story works if it makes you jump. I can faithfully report that Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s new adaptation of Henry James’ classic story, The Turn of Screw, elicited from this reviewer a couple of good gasps, a genuine shudder and one squeal so pronounced that the Almeida Theatre should really think about planting me in the audience for subsequent performances.
James’ novella about a governess going to care for two children, who it seems are haunted by former staff members, is a subtle work. Any adaptation is going to blunt the original but here the payoff in terms of entertainment provides justification. Lenkiewicz opts to emphasise the psychosexual content, which won’t be to all tastes. But this decision adds to the drama, and the thrills, in a logical enough fashion.
The direction from Lindsay Posner is efficient and all the performances competent, with an admirable star turn from Anna Madeley as the governess. But it’s Peter McKintosh’s impressive design, with creepy sounds from John Leonard and moody lighting from Tim Mitchell, which really makes the night. The spooky atmosphere may not be subtle but, then again, nor is screaming during a show – it’s good fun though.
Until 16 March 2013
Photo by Nobby Clark
Written 28 January 2013 for The London Magazine