Theater in a lavish old (and probably haunted) house? Bring it. We checked out The Turn of the Screw at the Merchant’s House Museum last week, and–shock and surprise–we loved it. So much it’s almost eerie.
Here’s what you need to know: Playing its final 8 performances this coming weekend, The Turn of the Screw is a two-hand play adapted from Henry James’ novella of the same name. Starring Vince Gatton and Christina LaFortune, this tale of a governess caring for two children at a haunted estate in 19th century England is being staged in the parlor of a New York City townhouse of the very same era.
Here’s why you need to go see it:
Vince, Vince and More Vince.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again—Vince Gatton is dashing and looks good in a suit. But more importantly, Gatton can play a metric shit-ton of characters in one show with unbelievable ease and clarity. In The Turn of The Screw, he plays no less than four different roles and his Miles, the ten-year-old-boy at the center of the drama, is particularly remarkable—Gatton even runs like a ten-year-old. It’s crazy! (In a good way, obvs.) He also makes some pretty impressive bird calls and scary wind noises. But seriously. Gatton is masterful, and witnessing his performance is a privilege.
There’s a Redhead in it!
We may or may not be biased on this, but we think redheads make everything better, and Christina LaFortune’s performance in The Turn of the Screw is no exception. At first, her Governess feels almost too chirpy and firm in her convictions, but as the play unfolds, this proves perfect for the role. Her unwavering certainty only heightens the sinister drama and gives you—the audience—the freedom to ask the creepiest question of all: what in the hell is really happening here?
The Merchant’s House is a character, too.
Set in the house’s low-lit front parlor, The Turn of the Screw owes some of its ghostly atmosphere to the fact that the Merchant’s House may or may not be filled with… real ghosts. At one point, a thumping water pipe in the hallway nearly had us nearly crawling up the velvet curtains in fear. No traditional theater space can do this, making for a truly unique experience.
It’s Goth, but in a good way.
Perhaps we were a prime audience to begin with—the Bronte/Austen-esque nature of this gothic horror fits kind of perfectly with our interests (there’s even a Jane Eyre joke!). But the truth is, The Mick couldn’t hate creepy/haunty things any more if she tried, and she went into this with serious fear and skepticism. And she loved it anyway. Turns out (haha!) the play itself has a broad appeal, and its 70-minute length is so tightly and smartly crafted that the audience is completely swept up in the mystery. There’s no time to think about how you’re feeling because you’re too busy feeling it. In other words, The Turn of the Screw a rush of a theater experience that is hard to find.
Tickets provided by Two Turns Theatre Company.
Photo: Christina LaFortune