Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Naked Stage: The Turning of the Screw (4 reviews)

The Naked Stage opened its production of The Turn of the Screw at Barry University's Pelican Theatre on July 27, 2012.
Based on Henry James' provocative tale of suspense, horror, and repressed sexuality, Jeffery Hatcher's adaptation of The Turn of the Screw gives the famous story yet another turn of its own.  A young governess journeys to a lonely English manor house to care for two recently orphaned children.  Her predecessor, Miss Jessel drowned herself when she became pregnant by the sadistic valet Peter Quint, who was himself found dead soon after.  Now, the new governess has begun to see the specters of Quint and Jessel haunting the children, and she must find a way to stop the fiends before it is too late.  But... are the ghosts real, or the product of her fevered imagination?
Margaret M. Ledford directed Katharine Amadeo and Matthew William Chizever.

Roger Martin reviewed for miamiartzine:
Damn, you want to see some great stuff, then just whistle across town to Barry University's Pelican Theatre and settle in for 85 minutes of intense theatre from the Naked Stage's production of The Turn of the Screw.
Katherine Amadeo and Matthew William Chizever are pure delight in this gloomy, ghostly tale of a young Victorian era governess hired by a London man about town to look after his orphaned niece and nephew in his country home.
Amedeo is brilliantly uncertain... Chizever's handling of his roles is a lesson in subtlety. His switches from male to female, from adult to child are remarkably believable. He has the essence of each character captured completely. Without visible effort...
Credit Margaret M Ledford for the masterful direction of a piece that rings all the changes in the spooky old house whose interior was extraordinarily well created on stage by Antonio Amadeo. The just right Victorian costumes are by Leslye Menshouse and the this is how it was in 1872 sound is by Matt Corey. Margaret M. Ledford also designed the inspired lighting. of the best shows of the year.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Attend the tale of The Turn of the Screw, Henry James’ psychological thriller given a superbly accomplished production as The Naked Stage’s first outing in almost two years.

Actually, many ingredients contribute to this witch’s brew top-lined by the flawless performances of Katherine Amadeo as a sexually-repressed governess in 1872 England and Matthew William Chizever inhabiting an emotionally-indifferent uncle, a venerable housekeeper, a troubled 10-year-old  boy and an ineffably evil spirit.

With the skill of an orchestra conductor, director Margaret M. Ledford has deftly wrought a world of half-shadows and whispers. She paces the evening masterfully, from Chizever’s slow delivery of passages like a connoisseur savoring the bouquet of a fine wine, to rapid-fire exchanges between angst-engorged characters, to the terror-fueled crescendo of  souls and minds twirling on the precipice of damnation and insanity.
Amadeo and Chizever’s work is so solid, so finely-crafted, so seamless that it’s hard to dissect or even describe.
Amadeo smoothly traces the governess’ arc from a naïf confidently eager to meet a challenge to a terrified unhinged victim.
Chizever pulls off the difficult trick of portraying four different characters... What Chizever accomplishes is making each so credible that you stop marveling at the acting and just forget it’s a young man playing a middle-aged domestic or a deeply disturbed boy.
Several times during the evening, one character or another asks, “Have I seduced you?”  The answer is yes.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Haunting theater doesn’t require a lavish set, tricky effects or a grand scale. In the case of Naked Stage’s Turn of the Screw, a strong cast, a clever director and imaginative designers deliver a spellbinding ghost story that creates the kind of unrelenting tension Henry James had in mind when he dreamed it up more than a century ago.
Turn of the Screw is all about atmosphere, mood and goosebumps. Director and lighting designer Ledford conjures all those things, in collaboration with Antonio Amadeo, whose predominantly gray period set keeps the focus on the expressive faces of the actor-storytellers; Leslye Menshouse, whose dark costumes do the same; and Matt Corey, whose sound design dials up the tension at key moments.

Almost an apparition herself, with her waif-like figure and porcelain beauty, Amadeo makes the 20-year-old governess a potential victim and determined fighter. She doesn’t definitively suggest whether the young woman is right about the ghosts or losing her grip on reality, and that ambiguousness just deepens the play’s mystery.

Chizever is crafty, commanding and chameleonic. Leaving the stage as one person then suddenly reappearing as another, he uses his malleable voice and physicality to populate the stage with distinctive, memorable characters. It is Chizever who supplies the emotional jolts in Turn of the Screw – the “boo” factor that thrill seekers and ghost story lovers crave.
Michelle Petrucci reviewed for BroadwayWorld:
As eerie candlelight dances across dark walls, two actors create an intensely creepy world that extends past the fourth wall and lures the audience into its chilling tale. With great use of theatrical magic, The Naked Stage manages to transform a tiny black box theatre into a grandiose haunted mansion with the use of slight shifts of light, simple blocking patterns and the dynamic believability of both actors.
Katherine Amadeo and Matthew William Chizever tell this story with honesty and clarity. She evokes a ghost-like presence as she turns mad. He deftly switches between sinister bachelor, warm caretaker and sly 10 year-old boy. In an instant, the play is riveting and all we can do is hold our breath until the very end.

To support these fine actors, Margaret M. Ledford has shaped this work into a beautifully twisted piece of art. Her lighting design works hand in hand with her keen direction... This company has a brilliant way of making us see that which is not there: as literal as the young girl, Flora, and a piano, or as figurative as the ghosts of Miss Jessel and Peter Quint.

The result is an absolute must-see piece of theatre.
The Naked Stage presents The Turn of the Screw at Barry University's Pelican Theatre through August 12, 2012.

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