The Turn of the Screw – Smock Alley – Review by Helen O’Leary
The Turn of the Screw is a novella written by Henry James and has been adapted many times for stage and screen. Essentially it is a ghost story and a psychological thriller and this current production at the Smock Alley is by Silent Chuckler Productions.
As the story goes a governess is hired by a gentleman in London to look after his orphaned niece and nephew in a secluded county estate called Bly. The Governess is quite taken by her dashing new employer and taking up her position with enthusiasm, she is resolved to excel in her new position.
However the hints come early that all is not right at this isolated mansion or with the children. Flora, the little girl, does not speak nor has she for some time. Ten- year-old Miles has been expelled from his boarding school for unutterable offences and the previous governess vacated her position under mysterious circumstances.
During sleepless nights eerie apparitions soon haunt the Governess. She suspects supernatural forces of trying to possess the children who are behaving oddly and is determined to save them. Meanwhile a strange and disturbing intimacy develops between her and Miles. However it is never fully clear if the peculiar behaviour of the children is imagined or truly reflects darker forces at play.
Gripping and deliberately ambiguous, is the governess mad and hallucinating or are the children truly malevolent and possessed?
Irene Kelleher in the lead role is a force to be reckoned with. She is every inch the prim governess with her pale complexion and dark swirling dress designed by Samantha Kennedy. Her short stay at the estate brings about a profound and frightening change in the coy parson’s daughter. The actor Mark Griffin triples up, playing the Master, young Miles and the housekeeper Mrs. Grouse. Despite towering over the diminutive Governess while playing the little boy Miles, he somehow manages very convincingly to shrink to size.
A gothic ambiance is created with lighting, sounds of creaking doors and howling gales and the high arched windows of the Smock Alley theatre. This eerie tale will have you perched on the edge of your seat and is well checking out on a dark November night.
The Turn of the Screw – November 25th-29th at 8pm in The Boys’ School at Smock Alley.