Turn Of The Screw: Churchill Theatre, Bromley
Reviewed 23rd April 2019
This new adaptation of Henry James’ iconic tale, which was the original inspiration for Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black, tells the tale of a young governess in 1840 who agrees to look after two orphaned children. But its not long after her arrival at the house that she realises she is not alone. She risks everything to keep the children safe and years later when she is confronted by the past she is compelled to find out what actually happened to her and the innocents in her protection. This dark, atmospheric play is set to have audiences on the edge of their seat.
The cast led by Janet Dibley, Amy Dunn and Maggie McCarthy work extremely hard to tell the dark story. Hardly leaving the stage Janet Dibley has a commanding stage presence and her relationship with Mrs Conway is convincing. Elliot Burton’s very exaggerated acting feels forced at times and whilst it creates a very bold statement, it makes his characters, particularly Giles, unbelievable.
The set, designed by Sara Perks, is very atmospheric and the use of the stage and period props works extremely well. The lighting by David W Kidd is particularly effective and creates a lot of tension. The dramatic flashes and use of blue-white light contrasting to the warm tones help to enable the production to dance between present and the past. Having music to accompany the show does add an extra layer and, just as it would a film, creates tension from the outset. The music, composed by John Chambers, is fairly stereotypical but does help keep the audience intrigued and involved with the action taking place onstage. Unfortunately, the sound quality was not very good at this performance and at times it was hard to hear the dialogue and the sound effects were not as dramatic as they could have been.
Turn Of The Screw is obviously a popular novel. It has since been turned into countless films and adaptations for stage. However the plot was very hard to follow and several theatre-goers could be heard saying they were ‘lost’ or asking ‘what actually happened?’ by the end of the production. This is unfortunate as the production has some very good moments and the atmosphere created was tangible although the plot was confusing with some overly long transitions.
Overall this production does not live up to hype. The creative side of the production is very good but the attention to detail on the plot falls slightly short. If you are a fan of Henry James then this production may well be the one for you, however if you are after a thrilling night out full of jumps and suspense then perhaps sticking to other productions such as The Woman in Black may suit better.
Turn Of The Screw is playing at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley until the 27th April 2019. For information and tickets click here. It then continues its UK Tour until the 15th June 2019. For information and tickets for the tour click here.
Photo Credit: Tom Grace