Saturday, January 31, 2009

Turn of the Screw goes off its thread

Peter Quint, Miss Jessel, and Flora are never seen in Seattle Shakespeare Company's production of The Turn of the Screw. Drama, tension, horror, and fright never turn up in this ghost story, either.

John Bogar did a marvelous job playing four different characters: the narrator, the uncle, his nephew Miles, and the housekeeper, Mrs. Grose. His costume was the formal wear of the narrator, the character who gets the least stage time. Bogar didn't even get a scarf or a hat or some other prop to help him help us keep it straight. He didn't need it; face, posture, gait, and personality always made it plain which character was on stage.

Jennifer Sue Johnson never quite convinced me on the governess. She was way too calm. That's Bogar and Johnson in John Ulman's photo above.

One is tempted to grump that director Rita Giomi used just two actors in the play to save money. This, however, is apparently the way playwright Jeffrey Hatcher penned his adapation of the Henry James novel. The story has long generated discussion about whether the ghosts of Quint and Jessel are real or the governess is just plain nuts.

Seattle Shakespeare Company did some interesting programming in January, running The Turn of the Screw in rotation with another Hatcher adaptation, the madcap The Servant of Two Masters. Sweetie the Scorer and I enjoyed Servant, but The Turn of the Screw was never able to drive home its point.


John said...


I'm sorry for commenting like this, but I can't see how to send you a simple private message. Feel free to moderate this comment away after reading it...

Anyway, I've enjoyed reading your blog (we exchanged a few comments last year surrounding your OSF reviews) and I want to invite you to a site I've started:

You can probably guess what it's about. I've been chiseling away at it for awhile now and it's just now coming out of the basement, so to speak. Anyway, I'd enjoy sharing your thoughts on all manner of Ashland subjects - food, places to stay, the play of course...

Hope to see you there!

John Casker
Ashland Link

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