"Light shines on Gothic Classic"
by Debra Hall for remotegoat on 11/05/19

Opens with a short flash of a creepy scene. Slam! Lights go out! Momentarily the stage is pitch black. Immediately we are drawn in.

In recent times we’ve come to know numerous creations and artistic formats across The Arts, and in Film /TV too that have been inspired by this Gothic story by the great novelist, Henry James.

Know that this production is very sophisticated, not hugely lavish, it’s just evident that all angles have been covered, all story-lines are been followed through; and that all is delivered and sewn up by a small cast of just four fabulous players.

The Governess, in her first employment wants to please her distant employer. However the downstairs servant, Mrs Grose, appears a little nervy when welcoming the new employee to the upstairs of a house in which only two children inhabit (or this is what we are led to believe). So there! Just a few scenes in, and all the elements are there for a telling of a right good yarn and a bit of spooking.

The centre-pin character, The Governess, is in good hands as one would expect from Janet Dibley, who is always methodical and professional whatever role she plays, as is dear, Maggie McCarthy whose Mrs Grose is ‘to the book’. Amy Dunn and Elliot Burton will leave the tour with new ‘feathers in their caps’ as they deliver memorable performances. Both play different characters including little girl and boy child.

The costumes are Victorian/Edwardian. Full skirts, tailored top layers, ruffles; top hats; a cap; a night shirt etc. The set design and moving furniture pieces are workable pieces that aids a scene change to flip across time or help with a drastic change in mood. The lighting and projection conveys those on the outside looking in, and the actors on the inside often convey the opposite.

The end may not be all that shocking but one will be sufficiently charged to recall and theory about the plot afterwards.

Given the authority under which this story rests this adaptation has been well received. The Derby Theatre date being the seventh date in a 2019 tour that ends in mid-June.

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