Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Turn Of The Screw

photo: Wandrille Moussel

Henry James' novella has always been open to interpretation: are the ghosts in the story real, or figments of the overheated imagination of the governess? This adaptation (currently at the Bank Street Theatre) attempts to preserve this ambiguity by having a single actor play everyone (including the cook, the ghosts and the children) except the governess. While this conceit admirably succeeds at allowing the audience either interpretation one might take from the novella, it also unfortunately demands a lot of tell rather than show: some of the chill of the book, despite eerie lighting and a sparse set that subtly evokes a pine coffin box, is lost. However the acting is very good: Steve Cook delineates his variety of roles handily, and I especially liked the macabre touch he brought to the play's opening narration. My only complaint is that I wish Melissa Pinsly, who clearly understands the character of the governess and does an otherwise fine job of rendering her growing terror, would slow down a bit, so that we can get the full effect of the character's growing awareness of her situation.

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