The Turn of The Screw – New Theatre Cardiff 25.5.18

Posted on: July 9, 2018, by :


The Others? The Woman in Black? The Innocents? I’ll avoid phrases like genre-defining work of Henry James and winding of pressure, but for the love of whatever you worship, this was quite intense. So many factors made it terrifying and I can’t decide which one made it more so

1. the rocking, rocking horse;

2. the jangling aural motif throughout (and on the website);

3. the rocking horse rocking when there was nothing else on stage;

4. an actor running across the back of the stage under a flashing surge of light;

5. the glare in the eyes of the actress playing ‘the girl’ (Flora).

The child and her brother are portrayed by the same actors as children and as adults. I really enjoyed the performance of Annabel Smith who turned into a child was symbolised by the grabbing and holding of her skirts so that she could run around in a heavy-footed way. It brought some much-needed movement to the play; her laugh and screech added to the tension but brought some relief from the serious winding of the pressure.

The motif of the jangly sound throughout puts you on the edge of your seat, the music was subtle and I think that’s what’s so scary about its addition. A jangle and a toy rocking unaided are enough for me to be terrified and the lighting exaggerated the pressure and tension.

My preference for stages is completely empty, or as little as possible to tell the story. Big flashy intricately detailed sets are not for me and this was just about enough. I really like the way the actors could move along the back of the set (that is where the terrifying run happened) and the rocking horse was a key feature to help put the frighteners on, I can totally understand the inclusion of it. The most disconcerting aspect of all was the askew frame around the stage; it was disorientating and surreal. As you can see from the picture it is tilted and SCARY.

It’s a shame that people erroneously think that a play on a stage can’t scare you because this one was terrifying, atmospheric, tense and jumpy. All of the things people want in a scary film, right?

Before I leave, I urge you to check out this link for the national access scheme for music and arts. The New Theatre is a venue that accepts HYNT cards (yay!), so if you need assistance to see these wonderful performances with someone to support you there is provision available.

The New Theatre is an old venue and theatres are not generally known for their accessibility due to the time in which they were built but many great adaptations have been made to make the arts accessible to all.  The New Theatre staff were accommodating from the booking process to showing us to our seats and met the requirements needed. There are some steps involved in getting to the seats at the front but there is a handrail and an area where seats have been removed for wheelchair access, oh and I’ve decided that it was the rocking horse actually rocking on the wonky stage that terrified me the most!

All photos by me and my iPhone 7+ or my dear friend Leigh and his iPhone 7.