Onstage: The Turn of the Screw

During the Halloween season a kind of madness seems to grip many Cincinnati theater companies who seek to outdo one another in scaring audiences. Cincinnati Shakespeare Company (CSC) is already at it with a spooky production of "Hamlet," but they're turn

At Halloween season a kind of madness seems to grip many Cincinnati theater companies who seek to outdo one another in scaring audiences. Cincinnati Shakespeare Company (CSC) is already at it with a spooky production of Hamlet, but they’re turning up the volume with a second production to fill in the cracks, a two-person theatrical version of Henry James’ classic tale The Turn of the Screw.

Playwright Jeffrey Hatcher’s adaptation was a gripping show on the Shelterhouse stage at the Cincinnati Playhouse back in 1997 when it was a relatively new script; now it’s been tested by more than a decade of performances, and it still chills audiences. CSC’s veteran Managing Director Rebecca Bowman Bromels is staging it, and she calls it “a heart-stopping 90 minutes.” She adds, “With a very minimal setting and only two talented actors, the play is terrifying because each audience member’s imagination brings the ghosts to life.”

Bromels loves the fact that Hatcher has chosen not to portray the ghosts, pointing out, “What we see is simply the Governess’s reaction to the ghosts.” Playing the Governess is CEA nominee Kelly Mengelkoch, now in her fifth year with CSC’s resident company. Third-year performer Josh Stamoolis — who takes on all the other speaking roles, but no ghosts — joins her. You get to contribute that part as you watch.

Performances happen opposite Hamlet, running on Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. through Nov. 9. $15-$20. Get details, buy tickets and find nearby bars and restaurants here.

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