This spring sees the world premiere of a dynamic new adaptation of Turn of the Screw embark on a UK tour, starring Carli Norris (Pygmalion, Albery Theatre; EastEnders, BBC; Hollyoaks, Channel 4) and Maggie McCarthy (Children of the Sun, Cocktail Sticks and Mother Clap’s Molly House, National Theatre; Doctors, BBC; Call the Midwife, BBC/Neal Street Productions; Attack the Block, Film 4; Calendar Girls, Touchstone Pictures).
This thrilling production of Henry James’ much-loved classic ghost story is faithful to the original and captures its much-celebrated ambiguity.
Set in 1840, a young governess agrees to look after two orphans, a boy and a girl, in Bly, a seemingly idyllic country house. But, shortly after her arrival, she realises that they are not alone. There are others – the ghosts of Bly’s troubled past. The Governess will risk everything to keep the children safe, even if it means giving herself up to The Others.
Years later, confronted by the past she is compelled to account for what actually happened to her and those under her protection. Henry James’ original novella ends with a cliffhanger where the boy dies in the Governess’ arms and the reader is left to draw their own conclusions. The prologue is not so puzzling; James informs the reader that the Governess wrestled with these troubling experiences for most of her life until she had to write them down shortly before her death.
Tim Luscombe’s brilliant new adaptation dramatises the passage of time in a thrilling and surprising way whilst remaining completely true to James’ story. Combining a framing of a story within another and employing one of the first uses of the unreliable narrator, Henry James created a unique sense of uncertainty and ambiguity for the reader. Consequently Turn of the Screw has been much debated since its publication in 1898, having defined the genre of psychological horror. It has been the source for many adaptations on stage and screen including the film The Others.
Dermot McLaughlin comments, I was inspired by the success of the stage adaptation of Susan Hill’s much loved novel The Woman in Black and in researching the debt that Hill’s novel owes to Henry James I got lost in the intriguing world of Bly and The Governess’s psyche. I found Turn of the Screw a compelling story with fascinating female characters. The context of this troubled woman committing to paper her terrifying and inexplicable experiences so long after the event was intriguing and moving. The why’s and wherefore’s of that psychology seemed very interesting dramatic territory. The tension between the past and the struggle to resign oneself to past actions presents a recognisable emotional state for us all. Tim Luscombe has realised my idea brilliantly and I’m excited to be able to bring it to audiences on tour.
23rd February – 10th March Mercury Theatre – Colchester
13th – 17th March Theatre Royal, Windsor
20th – 24th March West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds
27th – 31st March Festival Theatre, Malvern
3rd – 7th April New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth
10th – 14th April Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton
16th – 21st April Connaught Theatre, Worthing
24th – 28th April Yvonne Arnaud Theatre
1st – 5th May Theatr Clwyd, Mold
8th – 12th May Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield
15th – 18th May Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne
22nd – 26th May New Theatre, Cardiff