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Review: The Turn of the Screw

Almeida Theatre, London N1

    This chilling adaptation of Henry James's 1897 novella, in which a governess (Anna Madeley) finds that the two children she has been hired to teach (Lucy Morton and Laurence Belcher) are haunted by the ghosts of dead adults, certainly has the desired effect.

    I and the Almeida's Islington audience, a famously sophisticated and urbane lot, jumped out of our skins every time Lindsay Posner's spooky production said boo. And then we would comfort ourselves with a deliberately audible chuckle, as if to say we aren't really scared, we are just being good eggs by joining in.

    Peter McKintosh's eery design is all distressed walls and, crucially, a window that looks out onto pitch darkness through which anything might suddenly appear. Half of me was scared enough to want the evening to stop. But the other half resented the heavy handedness and missed the subtitles of Britten's opera which was also based on the book and which was revived relatively recently at the ENO. T

    hat version, directed by David McVicor, was rooted in the psychologically disturbing core of the original, while this one rather turns it into a fairground ghost train ride. (www.almeida.co.uk)

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