THE TURN OF THE SCREW by Henry James, adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher, directed by Craig Walker, with Michelle Mallen and Walker. Presented by Theatre Kingston at the Tarragon Extra Space (30 Bridgman). Runs to June 29, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $20, stu/srs $16, Sunday pwyc. 416-531-1827. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Seduction slithers silent and serpent-like through The Turn Of The Screw, Jeffrey Hatcher's adaptation of Henry James's intentionally ambiguous ghost story. It's the tale of an impressionable governess at an English country house who believes her young charges are possessed by the spirits of a former governess and valet.The stage version keeps part of the novel's frame, in which a male narrator introduces the governess's tale -- he's possibly as infatuated with her as she is with her mysterious employer -- and then gives all the parts except the governess (Michelle Mallen) to one actor (director Craig Walker). Since all the haunting in the tale may be in the admittedly romantic governess's active, sexually awakened imagination, it's another neat turn to have her project the face of her employer on everyone in her world.
With the help of lighting designer Jamie Press, Mallen and Walker tease out all the creepiness and sensuality in the script with finely detailed storytelling and an impressive creation of atmosphere.
The result isn't strictly James, since Hatcher compresses the novel's action and adds some details of plot and imagery, including turning the younger child into an invisible mute.
The piece sometimes falters because of these additions, which tend to make concrete what James leaves to the reader's imagination, especially in a gratuitous postlude that draws too-obvious conclusions from the tale's magic. firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com