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September 17, 2008 > Theatre Review: Ghostly splendor at Broadway West

Theatre Review: Ghostly splendor at Broadway West

By Julie Grabowski

For those looking to get in a good shiver before Halloween, Broadway West Theatre Company offers an ample dose of creepiness with Henry James's "The Turn of the Screw."

A young governess is given charge of orphaned siblings Miles and Flora who live at Bly, their uncle's country house in Essex, England. When she begins to see the ghosts of former governess Miss Jessel and her lover, valet Peter Quint appearing on the grounds, she becomes convinced they have a power over the children and have come to take them for evil purposes. Having been instructed by the uncle to "face all adversity yourself" and never bother him, the governess is determined to protect the children and fight for their innocence, succeeding where others have failed. As the story is delivered through her diary entries and she is the only one to see these specters, it is unclear whether the danger is real or a product of her imagination.

Jeffrey Hatcher's adaptation of the 1898 novella puts the voices of all the characters into two players labeled simply "The Man" and "The Woman." Drew Campbell and Angie Higgins meet the challenge with complete control and confidence, fully embodying the tale and delivering it to perfection. Campbell shoulders most of the characters and adds sound effects, transitioning between the uncle, housekeeper Mrs. Grose, and 10-year-old Miles with flawless ease. His performance is alternately dear and chilling, and thoroughly enjoyable. Higgins is never absent from the stage and holds her ground with tremendous energy and passion. Her unraveling governess is sympathetic and engaging, while wholly disturbing.

The creep factor is brought out in every element of the production beginning with the eerie overhead music that greets you upon entry. A single chair occupies the bleak slate-gray stage, and stripped white branches sprout from the corners of the floor behind fluttering shear black curtains. The lighting cleverly directs mood and tension throughout the story, showing the dramatic content to its best effect.

Director Ross Arden Harkness and company deliver a rock solid production that is sure to entrance and bring on chills.

Tickets are $22 for adults, $17 for seniors, students, and TBA members (no discounts on Sundays), and $15 for everyone on Thursdays. Performances on the 21st and 28th will offer a continental brunch before the show at 12:15 p.m., and English tea will be available at intermission on October 5th with an actor Q&A following the performance. All refreshments are included in the ticket price. For reservations or further information call (510) 683-9218 or visit

The Turn of the Screw
September 12-October 11
Thursday- Saturday 8 p.m., Sundays 1 p.m.
Broadway West Theatre Company
4000-B Bay Street, Fremont
(510) 683-9218
Tickets: $15-$22

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