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A great cerebral ghost story

October 8, 2012

The Turn of the Screw is a classic cerebral ghost story that relies on suspense, intrigue, and drama rather than shock and awe.  This two actor rendition is nothing short of captivating.  While watching you are fully enveloped in a period piece that belongs on Masterpiece Mystery.  For me that is where this adaptation truly shines.  It took me back to my childhood when I would sneak in a Mystery and be gripping the edge of the couch jumping at every bump and creak.

As I said this is a two actor rendition, and they pull it off completely.  Nich Kauffman fills out the cast portraying every character save the Governess played by Amelia Gotham.  While Kauffman provides a technical and seamless transition from character to character; Gotham pulls you into the story through the rollercoaster of emotions our young Governess experiences throughout the story.

The story begins with a hopeful and repressed woman interviewing for a position as Governess of two children.  The niece and nephew of the Master of Bly House.  After a brief meeting that is as much seduction as it is job interview the Governess is hired.  It is then that she is informed of the unusual requirements of that job, those being that she is to never contact her employer again.

Cut to life at the Bly house where we meet the children and housekeeper.  It is here where Kauffman artfully transitions from character to character leaving you so engrossed you hardly realize they are all being played by the same person.  Kauffman’s ability to move from character to character in conjunction with Gotham’s emotional metamorphosis make this a play to remember.

As the story progresses you are drawn in on a few fronts.  The characters draw you into their lives by remaining slightly mysterious.  You also find yourself pulled into the Governesses psyche through the use of the narration.  Instead of an offstage disembodied voice the Governess herself narrates the story through the occasional aside before or during a new scene.  This is done in such a way that it feels like you are experiencing her inner thoughts.  Lastly you are drawn in through the transitions the Governess goes through.  Gotham’s portrayal of a young woman who starts out as naive, moves through defiant determination and ends in shear madness is captivating.  When she stands in the hall from midnight through dawn yelling at the Ghost of Peter Quint you see on her face, and hear in her voice; the transition from scared little girl to anger fueled defiance and ending up in exhausted nervous insanity.

The Turn of the Screw is also filled with complex societal layering.  You have Miles the Master’s young nephew who has been cast into adulthood far too early due to reasons I’ll let you discover when you watch for yourself.  The Governess also goes through a litany of repressed emotions which stem from having a preacher from a father.  Tie these and other issues together in a Gothic back drop, add in a few riddles and a ghost or two and you have an excellent commentary of a repressed society.  A society were the young grow up too fast, and those just reaching adulthood are afraid and torn between their innocence and their deep seeded semi erotic emotions.

If I had to say anything else about The Visceral Company’s presentation of The Turn of the Screw it would be see it now while you can.  Whether you like period pieces, deeply layered social commentary, or are just a fan of a cerebral ghost story this is a Play you must see!

For more on The Turn of the Screw or The Visceral Company visit

From → Reviews

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