A Victorian secret

The Turn of the Screw is a tale of ghosts. Or is it?

For those familiar with the Henry James novella from which the play was adapted, you might recall the psychological nature of the work. SCREW is praised as a work that has the ability to create fear and horror without detailing gore.

Today the horror genre is not complete without gallons of blood splashing on the walls and gushing out of slit throats. The Turn of the Screw contains none of these.

The action takes place when a new governess (Rachael Baird) arrives to take on a nanny position in the Blythe estate. The magistrate (Benjamin King, who also plays the maid and Miles) agrees to her new position, but on one condition: that she never contact him under any circumstances. Little explanation is provided. It is also revealed that the children are not his, leaving more questions for the new governess.

Anxious to be with the children, she readily agrees — secretly hoping that a pleasing performance will ensure matrimony with the handsome young bachelor. Upon arrival she meets a maid who knows all the secrets of Blythe, but is stringent in revealing them, and also encounters the children, Laura and Miles, the latter having recently been expelled from school, again for reasons unknown.

From here the unanswered questions envelope a greater mystery behind the Blythe estate. We discover that the previous governess committed suicide. The events at Blythe take a dramatic turn when Baird claims to see the deceased.

The script is unique in that it captures the rich, eloquent language and landscape of Henry James. Yet the stage itself is rather plain. All it consists of is a chair, four shower curtains attached to metal poles surrounding center stage, a hand-held light, and three masks. But its sparcity is its strength because of its ability to convey epic quality as set forth by James.

The two players, Rachel Baird and Benjamin King, give superb and engaging performances. King, with the use of the masks, plays three characters believably, while Baird brings the audience with her as she spirals down into psychological uncertainty and eventual insanity.

Thus The Turn of the Screw effectively creates a sense of mystery and horror for the involved viewer. With gripping performances, creative direction, and succulent writing, the epic ghost tale will have you undoubtedly seduced, while entertaining the lingering thought: Are your fears real or imagined? You are left to decide amongst your ghosts.

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