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Sierra Madre Playhouse Turning the Screw this month

Sierra Madre Playhouse will stage a production of Turn of the Screw, playwright Jeffrey Hatcher’s adaptation of Henry James’ Victorian ghost story, starting this weekend. The 70-minute drama depicts the struggles of a young governess who comes to believe that her two young charges are haunted by – and perhaps in league with – a pair of ghosts.

Viewed as a straightforward haunted house tale when it was published in 1898, James’ novel became the subject of psychoanalytic readings in the 20th century, speculating that its first-person narrator (the governess) was hallucinating the ghosts. Hatcher’s play cleverly maintains this ambiguity by depicting the action on a blank stage, leaving everything to the imagination of the audience, who must judge whether the governess is really seeing what she describes. The cast consists of two actors: one playing the governess, the other playing all other characters, particularly the young boy who seems to be the focus of the haunting.

Judging from a shot of the rehearsal, the Sierra Madre Playhouse production will include some props to convey the setting, unlike the previous two productions of the play we have attended: one in 2006 at the Pacific Resident Theatre in Venice and one in 2016 at Crossley Theatre in Hollywood. As you can probably guess, the play depends heavily on its two actors to carry the story; when the performances click the results can be electrifying. Definitely worth checking out if you want some summer scares.

The show runs three weekends this month: July 14-16, 21-23, 28-30, with performances at 8pm on Fridays and Saturdays and at 2pm on Sundays. Tickets range from $25 to $45. Sierra Madre Playhouse is located at 87 West Sierra Madre Boulevard in Sierra Madre. Get more information here.

Steve Biodrowski, Administrator

A graduate of USC film school, Steve Biodrowski has worked as a film critic, journalist, and editor at Movieline, Premiere, Le Cinephage, The Dark Side., Cinefantastique magazine, Fandom.com, and Cinescape Online. He is currently Managing Editor of Cinefantastique Online and owner-operator of Hollywood Gothique.