@ The Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Main St.

The Turn of the Screw

By Henry James, directed by Ceil Herman

  • The Governess (Ilana Lapid) and The Narrator (Scott Lunsford) at the start of the play
  • The Governess (Ilana Lapid) in her room at night
  • The Governess (Ilana Lapid) watches Miles (Scott Lunsford) in the Garden at night
  • The Governess (Ilana Lapid) and the Uncle (Scott Lunsford) in his London House
  • The Governess (Ilana Lapid) wis comforted by Mrs. Grose (Scott Lunsford)

Feb 28-Mar 16, 2003

FRI FEB 28, MAR 7,14 | 8:00 PM
SAT MAR 1,8,15 | 8:00 PM
SUN MAR 2,9,16 | 2:30 PM
THUR MAR 13 | 7:00 PM





'The Turn of the Screw' produces chills
- By Cheryl Thornburg, Las Cruces Sun News

It's amazing how much some people can do with so little. The No Strings Theater Company's production of Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw" more than proves that point.

This particular adaptation by Jeffrey Hatcher uses only two actors: a woman, who plays the governess, and a man, who plays several roles including the housekeeper, Mrs. Grose, and the ten-year-old boy, Miles.

Because this version calls for a minimalist set with no costume changes, it presents some real challenges for the actors, particularly for Scott Lunsford who tackles multiple roles. Without costume changes or props, he must create believable, effective characters that capture the audience's attention.

Lunsford does so with ease, with subtle changes in body language and masterful facial and vocal manipulations. Whether it's a chilling intense stare or a submissive demeanor, it's easy to tell who's who in Lunsford's repertoire.

Ilana Lapid plays the governess with grace and spunk, bringing James' character to life for new generations. Though recently returned from a Fulbright Fellowship in Romania, where she led a mural-painting project with Gypsy children, she seems perfectly at home in the 19th century with its confining clothes and bustles.

Lapid brings dignity with just a slight vulnerability to her role, leaving the audience with admiration for her character.

The team of Ceil and Peter Herman has once again put together a satisfying theater package, with Ceil casting and guiding the perfect actors for the parts and Peter creating haunting lighting effects and settings. Meredith Loring designed the period costumes, which complete the package.

For those who are unfamiliar with James' classic tale, "The Turn of the Screw" is a chilling ghost story where two dead lovers haunt a mansion and seek to possess their former master's children. Standing between the children and their gloomy fate are the housekeeper and the newly appointed governess, who sets out to save the children.

'Turn of the Screw' strange and creepy, yet intriguing
- By Pat Garcia, NMSU RoundUp [ 2/27/03 ]

Scary movies are great. They've got that "don't go in there" appeal. You know exactly what is going to happen, but you also can't wait for it to happen. Now imagine that splendor live. Imagine the creepiness right before your eyes. Imagine the chills going down your spine.

That's something movies can't give you, and something the Black Box Theatre can with their upcoming performance of "The Turn of the Screw." Opening Friday at 8 p.m., this spooky Jeffrey Hatcher adaptation of the original is sure to make you slighty unnerved.

Henry James wrote "The Turn of the Screw" as a newspaper serial before it was published as a book, and according to sparknotes.com, was meant to critique Victorian social attitudes regarding sex.
But it's easy to get spun into this winding story. "The Turn of the Screw" is a gothic, Victorian tale about a governess, two children in her care and two dead lovers. That's putting it simply, though.
After being hired to care for the children, 10-year-old riddler/schemer/liar Miles and his younger sister Flora, the governess (Ilana Lapid) begins to become alarmed by the strange behavior of the children. Miles, as it turns out, is kicked out of school for having said "bad" things. What these bad things are, we never really know.

After talking to the housekeeper, Mrs. Groves (Scott Lunsford, who does quadruple duty portraying Miles, creating any background noises and narrates), reveals that two former employers were lovers. This pair wasn't just a pair of star-crossed lovers, they were sexually deviant lovers, performing unspeakable sexual acts.

The governess soon learns that she must protect the children from unnatural forces that are still lingering in the mansion.

There is a heart-wrenching scene where Flora nearly drowns, but is saved by Mrs. Groves, though we see that the governess finally understands what is happening in the mansion.
The play is inherently extraordinary. But the fact that it only stars two actors makes it even more remarkable.

Lapid and Lunsford do an amazing job of creating a story that involves many characters. Their ability to do that, and work well together make the show worthwhile.

The technical direction of the play is quite minimalistic, using few props (a three-tiered grey platform and a chair). But that's the way it was supposed to be.

Director Ceil Herman said she wanted to do this play because of the challenges it presented. She said the playwright requests that the play be presented with little or no props and no costume changes. This is meant to keep the focus on the plot and the characters.

The play does include a few elaborate touches, like ghostly lighting and smoke that adds mystery to the play.

The cast and set designers have cleverly found a way to move from scene to scene using lighting effects.

"I liked the challenge of having one character who has to do all those roles," Herman said. "It sounded like such a challenge. I thought, 'Oh, I'll never find an actor who could do that,' and then Scott came (along)."

It's a creepy play; in fact, Lunsford does his job so well, he seems creepy. With every facial expression he conjures up -- from Miles' innocent, inquiring look to Miles-has-gone-crazy-and-looks-like-he's-ready-to-explode look -- Lunsford is quite convincing in his portrayal of every character he plays. He is especially spooky when he turns into Miles while playing a piano and humming.

Lapid doesn't get left out, as she cleverly portrays the strong and ambitious governess. Her facial expressions, as well, lead the audience into an entangling web of terror.


No seating plan has been posted.


Our next production is Animal Tales The normal ticketing system will be used but you may only select the number of seats you require and we will assign seats to comply with NM Covid requirements. You may request row 1, 2, 3, or 4 and we will do our best to honor your request. Please see the event pages for details.

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