Review: ‘The Turn of the Screw’s’ fails to fully haunt the unique space in which it’s staged

production_shot1

Staging a classic 19th century ghost story in a historical 19th century house sounds like an artful theatrical marriage. Unfortunately, Simple Machine Theatre’s production of “The Turn of the Screw” doesn’t quite live up to its haunting potential.

Stephen Libby and Anna Waldron — who take on the roles of all of Henry James’ characters — certainly deliver compelling performances. Waldron delivers two screams that will raise your heart rate. Unfortunately, fine acting can’t save this show from its failings.

At the performance this reviewer attended (held at The Gibson House Museum), it felt like actual ghosts would be more welcome than the audience. Upon arriving, attendees were hustled into a small basement room, where a quick rundown of the house rules preceded the start of the play.

In short order, we schlepped back upstairs to the museum’s historic foyer where we sat, in cramped quarters, for the remainder of the show. The actors performed from varying spots on the staircase or in direct line with the audience. The intimacy that this afforded proved awkward and, even in such a small space, not all of the seats have clear sight lines.

There are also problems with the lighting design and execution. The room lights remain on for some of the production and, if in the wrong seat, their glare is distracting. The tricks employed to create a frightening sense of impending calamity or to herald the arrival of otherworldly visitors feel only slightly more sophisticated than the ghostly effects rendered by the proverbial little kid with a flashlight.

That said, you don’t have to employ the latest high-tech machinations of the haunt industry to create edge of your seat theater — you do, however, have to commit fully to your production.

Ultimately, the failure to use the space to its fullest potential — and there is much of it — makes the production’s site specifics feel gratuitous. A solid staging in a black box would likely have been far more effective.

If you go

‘The Turn of the Screw’
Through November 23
The Gibson House Museum, Boston or The Taylor House B&B, JP
$25, 857-574-0550
simplemachinetheatre.com



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Hurricane Odile batters Mexico's Baja resorts, sparks looting

Hurricane Odile injured dozens of people, forced the evacuation of thousands and smashed shops open to looters in the popular tourist area of Baja, Mexico.

National

Apple iPhone 6 pre-orders hit record 4 million…

By Lehar Maan(Reuters) - Apple Inc said many customers will need to wait until next month for their new iPhones after a record 4 million…

National

LAPD investigates complaint from detained 'Django' actress

The LAPD is investigating after "Django Unchained" actress Daniele Watts accused police of violating her rights when they detained her.

Local

Number of New York City smokers increase, topping…

For the first time since 2007, there are  more than one million smokers in New York City, according to the New York City Department of…

Movies

Newsflash: Corey Stoll is still not a man

In director Shaun Levy's "This Is Where I Leave You," Corey Stoll stars as the oldest of four adult children (the others are played by…

Movies

If you don't like Simon Pegg's new film,…

Simon Pegg goes all out in "Hector and the Search for Happiness" as the titular psychiatrist stymied by modern life who embarks on a globetrotting…

Arts

Art in Chelsea: Don't miss these 3 galleries

We selected three sure bets for seeing cool art in the galleries of Chelsea.

Music

Robin Thicke blurs lines further with new 'Blurred…

"The reality is," said Robin Thicke about "Blurred Lines" in a court deposition, "Pharrell had the beat and he wrote almost every single part of the song."

NFL

Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.

NFL

Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.

NFL

3 things we learned in Jets loss to…

The wheels came off for the Jets, who gave up 21 unanswered points after a brilliant first 20 minutes in a 31-24 loss at the Packers.

NFL

Victor Cruz catches case of the drops in…

The Giants dropped a tough, 25-14, decision to the undermanned Cardinals Sunday in their home opener. And drop was the operative word of the day,…

Travel

World's most hipster cities: Top 5

Travel blogger Adam Groffman tells us his picks for the Top 5 most hipster cities in the world.

Education

The top 5 regrets recent high school grads…

College application season can seem like a blur for many students - as test prep, campus visits and filling out a seemingly endless stream of…

Parenting

Tech execs tend to limit their kids' screen…

You probably got your iPad before Bill Gates's kids did.

Wellbeing

Wellbeing: Daybreaker returns, Ray Rice jersey trade, Sweet…

  Now that Ray Rice is no longer with the Baltimore Ravens — or any other NFL team — after video footage surfaced showing him…