November 19, 2016
There are times when I could kick myself for waiting too long to see a particular play. Had I been clever enough to see “Turn Of The Screw”, at Actors Co-Op, before the final weekend (this one – sorry, folks!), I could have encouraged my readers to go, go, go to this marvelous, innovative piece of spooky, sexually tinged and unhinged theater. Alas and alack, unless someone decides to make this an annual event, you’ll just have to settle for the Deborah Kerr film version of the Henry James classic, called “The Innocents“.
Jeffrey Hatcher, may his tribe increase, created a two-hander version of the macabre story, gave it to Robertson Dean to direct, and saw to it that two actors were cast who could more than handle the material. The staging is as bare-bones as I have ever seen, but that forced the audience to rely on their imaginations – what a concept, eh?!
Natalie Hope MacMillan gives a powerful performance as Woman, the governess to two, shall we say, unusual children. Sequestered in an eerie estate somewhere in England, Woman runs the emotional gamut from sincere and enthusiastic, to frightened by the bizarre happenings as they unfold, to perhaps sexually aroused and finally full of fury. For me, personally, I am always relieved to see an actress who is capable of exhibiting true anger and MacMillan knows how to let go.
As terrific as MacMillan is, she is slightly overshadowed by Isaac Wade’s virtuosic performance, or should I say performances, since he plays all of the male roles as well as one of the females. Each character is distinctly different from the others and his ability to switch instantly from one to the next is nearly impossible to fathom.
I can only hope that the Ovation voters saw what I saw last night and recognize these two young stars-in-the-making as just that: stars! I, of course, offer kudos to the director and writer, as well. All in all, a marvelous performance of a haunting story…yes, pun intended.
- Kris Malone