The Turn of the Screw
By Ken Whitmore adapted from the story by Henry James
18 - 23 January, 2016
Mr Crimond is happy that Miss Grey will take the job
Mrs Grose tries to reasure Miss Grey that there are no problems
Flora and Miles are perfect students
The ghosts win the battle for Miles
A young governess is hired by a man who has become responsible for his young nephew and niece after the deaths of their parents. He lives mainly in London and is uninterested in raising the children himself.
The boy, Miles, is attending a boarding school, whilst his younger sister, Flora, is living at a country estate in Essex. She is currently being cared for by the housekeeper, Mrs. Grose. The governess' new employer, Miles and Flora's uncle, gives her full charge of the children and explicitly states that she is not to bother him with communications of any sort. Miles is expelled from school. Why? Strange figures are seen around the grounds of the estate. Why? There is a terrible secret. What is it? What is the grim significance of the ghosts? Ė How can this be? A dark and chilling Gothic ghost thriller set in the 1900s
Henry James wrote the Gothic Ghost story, The Turn of the Screw, when such tales were immensely popular. The novel begins with a Christmas House Party where guests are entertaining each other with Ghost stories. This leads into an account supposedly taken from the journal of a young governess.
She tells of how she was employed by their uncle to care for two orphaned children, who left her in sole charge. Before long, she begins to see strange figures, and she learns of the deaths of the former valet and governess.
Convinced that the ghosts have come for the children, she determines to save them. Jamesís contemporary readers would undoubtedly have believed in the ghosts, but even so the novel is ambiguous leaving many unanswered questions. Why was Miles expelled from school? Did the valet and governess corrupt the children? Was it only the governess who saw the ghosts?
In the twentieth century it became fashionable to consider the ghosts as figments of the governessís vivid imagination, but this interpretation raises other questions. There have been a number of adaptations for the screen and stage, notably the film The Innocents and Benjamin Brittenís Opera, each with its own slant. Ken Whitmoreís adaptation remains very close to the original, using much of Jamesís dialogue.
I have greatly enjoyed this opportunity to work with adults and children together and I thank them for their hard work and commitment, despite the rehearsal schedule spanning the festive season. I am sure they also join me in appreciating the invaluable work of the Designers and Backstage teams and I am very grateful to my daughter, Katy, for her music.
We hope that you will enjoy this Victorian Gothic tale, and leave the theatre still questioning and perhaps a little chilled.