Jeramiah Peay directs Jeffrey Hatcher’s adaptation of Henry James’ novella, “The Turn of the Screw” in this enthralling presentation of the classic mid-1800’s haunted English manor story.
By Carol Edger Germain
There have been various readings and movies based on this story, but this spin on the story is unique and tremendously successful.
With only two actors in the entire play introducing us to seven characters, obviously superior talent in timing, transformation, description, and interaction is required, and Michael Mullen and Shayna Gabrielle nail it.
Whatever they describe or imply, we see it! I found myself leaning forward a bit waiting for each new twist, each new character or reference. Gabrielle plays the governess, and Mullen convincingly mutates through several characters – first the cold, disconnected (except when spouting one of his mild but clear sexual innuendos), reluctant uncle of orphans, then to the housekeeper, Mrs. Gross, then to the orphan Miles, and also to the menacing Peter Quint. It takes a bit of questioning, but the new governess eventually learns that she is a replacement for the previous governess, Miss Jessel, who drowned herself when she found herself pregnant by the sadistic valet, Peter Quint (who mysteriously passed away shortly thereafter). The only child at the manor on her arrival is Flora, as Miles is away at boarding school. However, he returns abruptly because of some rather vague charges by the school, and the governess goes into protective, nurturing mode for both children, which quickly becomes feverishly heightened by her sightings of what she eventually determines must be the spirits of the fallen Miss Jessel and Peter Quint, hovering with evil intentions of possessing the children.
The pace, pressure, confusion, and uncertainty of what she is experiencing quickly builds and she begins to doubt her visions, then doubt her assessment of the children, until she is at fever pitch and must take extreme action. What is the culmination of the frenzy, what action does she take, what is real and what is imagined? There is a most entertaining way to find out, of course – get your ticket! It’s a short run, don’t miss out! (And by the way, I can vouch for the air-conditioning system at the theater)!
The Turn of the Screw Through July 30 Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm Sundays at 2:00 pm 70 minutes, no intermission. Sierra Madre Playhouse 87 West Sierra Madre Blvd. Sierra Madre, CA 91024 Parking: ample free parking behind the theater (numerous dining establishments within yards of the theater) Tickets: $25-$45 Reservations - 626-355-4318
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