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A Very Spooky Tale…

June 25, 2013

In my previous life, as an English teacher, I’ve sat through a fair few performances that, shall we say, didn’t quite have me on the edge of my seat. However, on Saturday evening, at  The Parsonage, Hazel Roy’s adaptation of Henry James’ classic spine-tingler, “The Turn of theScrew”, would have had me on the edge of my seat. If I’d been sitting on one. This performance, as part of Didsbury Arts Festival 2013, made full use of the grounds around The Parsonage, and necessitated quite a lot of “promenading”.

Staged initially in the beautiful main room of the allegedly haunted house, “Spring Bank” in the novella, the action started with the arrival of the new governess, played wonderfully by Florence King. She is met by Mrs Grose (Caroline Melliar-Smith), the house-keeper and one of her charges, Flora (played by Parrswood Year 7 pupil, Eloise Hall). Mention is made of the second child, Miles (another Yr 7 pupil at Parrswood, Tom Hardern), who would be arriving the following day from his boarding school.

2013-06-25_0001Tension begins to build as the Governess is handed a letter, informing her that Miles has been expelled from school but not stating why. The tension continues to build when Miles arrives and seemingly has no intention of discussing his explusion. Spooky events ensue, involving ghostly sightings…

We follow The Governess out into the grounds of the house and, well… Just watch the shadows…

Narrated by Peter Gidman, we never lost track of the plot or passage of time, and the movement between house and gardens added to the quite eerie atmosphere, especially as dusk was just setting in. The build up of tension continues, culminating in the ending, which if you don’t know, we shall say no more about…

The acting was superb, both from adults and children. Never hammy, never over-the-top – simply very, very, very good, and there were sufficient moments when, as an audience, we jumped. It’s not an overly-long production (and there is a 15 minute interval, when if you’ve been very organised & ordered your drinks beforhand, you can nip next door to The Old Cock), so even if you don’t get one of the seats, standing isn’t an issue.

This will inevitably be one of the DAF 2013 highlights – and as well as the actors, special mention must go to the director, Hazel Roy, who brought together the group of professional actors, drama students and school children, especially for this adaptation for the arts festival. If you haven’t managed to get tickets, you’ve missed a real theatrical treat. If you do have tickets for Thursday 27th & Friday 28th June, we don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

TIPS – take a brolly in case it rains & pre-order your drinks for the interval either at The Didsbury or The Old Cock. And, don’t be of too nervous a disposition…

One Comment leave one →
  1. Debs Grace permalink
    June 26, 2013 3:38 pm

    Sounds a wonderful production & from your pix certainly looks very spooky. Wish I had a ticket – it’s one of my favourite ghost stories!

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