Review: The Turn of the Screw - Ashby Venture Theatre

By Llynda Baugh

25th Mar 2023 | Local Features

The cast of The Turn of the Screw. Photo: Llynda Baugh
The cast of The Turn of the Screw. Photo: Llynda Baugh

It has been some years since I have watched a performance at the Venture Theatre, but I have fond memories of those I have seen in the past.  Tonight's performance was billed as a 'ghost story'.  That is definitely my genre so I arrived full of hope.

As you walk through the main doors, you are immediately greeted and made to feel welcome.  Walking into the auditorium, its small and intimate size is surprising. The stage is lined with black drapes and the props consist of one chair. 

The programme tells me there are seven characters played by five people. As I sit in my seat, I do so with the plot unknown. 

The time is called and within seconds I want to know what has happened. There is no build up, no background, no introduction of characters - it appears to be about one woman and it is obvious that things are far from right. 

It soon becomes evident that the cast actually consists of just three people. They are going to have to work hard to keep us drawn in until the end and they certainly succeed. 

The director describes the set as an open black box with little support from props and it is perfect. Lighting and sound effects are added where needed and certainly enhance the atmosphere of what is a twisted tale of the supernatural. 

Nikki Favell is superb. I believed every word she said. I also believed her face and mannerisms when nothing was said. As the play moved on, I realised I had seen an interpretation of The Turn of the Screw as a film, but this was better. It was better because I knew what the main character was thinking as she would address the audience and tell us. 

The young members of the cast were not present, but the clever storyline, prolific adjectives and acting more than suggested they were. The supporting cast seamlessly changed their characters as the plot moved on.

This play was clever. It was cleverly thought out and its delivery was genius. The single prop, the chair, also played its part. It would have been easier to leave it stationary, but its different positions meant something in a production where less was definitely more.

The twists and turns and sound and light certainly caught out some of the audience as they jumped and called out. This was a drama and the end was wonderfully dramatic. As I left the theatre, I could not stop myself asking how on earth the lead character had remembered all of her lines so perfectly. 

She had been on stage throughout and had held us spellbound. Well done to all involved - none of this was amateur in any way and I will definitely be back to see more.

• The Turn of the Screw continues its run tonight (Saturday) and then again from Wednesday (Mar 29) through to Saturday (April 1).

You can book tickets HERE


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