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Review: The Turn Of The Screw, Lion and Unicorn

Strong chemistry between co-stars leads to assured re-telling of Henry James' ghost story

09 February, 2017 — By Claire Davies

Rik Grayson stars in an intimate production of Henry James’ famous tale

DIRECTOR Imogen Beech and her cast Suzy Whitefield and Rik Grayson have created a taught imagining of Henry James’ classic ghost story.

A young governess is sent to the remote estate of Bly to take sole charge of orphans, Flora and Miles. Flora is mute. Miles is recently expelled from boarding school. Over the course of seven days, the country idyll slips away to reveal malevolent forces whose motives are not entirely clear.

The intimacy of the fringe is perfect for Jeffrey Hatcher’s adaptation, which is staged in the round. This production ran at the Edinburgh Festival in 2015 and there is a strong chemistry between the two performers.

As the young governess, Suzy Whitefield is the thread from which the plot unspools. This is an assured performance from Whitefield whose initial pinprick sharp composure makes her gradual breakdown all the more shocking.

Rik Grayson orbits around her, playing the rest of the cast. He is very good at this – a tiny shift in the clasp of his hands and he is an old Scots housekeeper in aprons; a beat later he is smug and slippery as 10-year old Miles showing off on the piano.

The minimalist set is supported by a creative lighting design from Martha Godfrey, which helps to create both atmosphere and tension.

Like all good ghost stories, it is difficult to distinguish truth from lies. After 75 minutes, the final scene is satisfyingly unclear. As the lights came up, I realised I had been holding my breath.

Until 11 February
Lion and Unicorn, Gaisford Street, Kentish Town
Phone: 0207 367 2304


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