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.
Jeffrey Hatcher’s theatrical adaptation of Henry James’ ghost story “The Turn of the Screw” places a large amount of responsibility on its actors. Making sense of the stylized language of 19th century England alone is a daunting task. Couple that with either never leaving the stage or playing multiple characters, and you are left with a massive undertaking. However, The Naked Stage has found a way to make this piece accessible to modern audiences. 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 to lead our focus to different parts of the house of Bly, the garden or near the river. 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 Pelican Theatre is located on the campus of Barry University in Miami Shores and “The Turn of the Screw” runs through August 12th.