Storytellers Theatre Company’s style of theatre was well suited to an almost 20th century ghost story where the narrative is mostly past tense and from letters etc. The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James, written in 1898, was highly thought of from the pen of a prose stylist and Liam Halligan’s sensitive direction and adaptation kept the many aspects of the story before the audience without any ghostly visions, apparitions, just honest stage effects, eerie music and spot-on acting.
Briefly at Garter Lane, we were introduced to the Governess, a woman of twenty-one years, who is sent to have charge over two impressionable teenagers by an uncle who has no time for them. Myles and Flora are not particularly innocent and are apparently in thrall of two possible evil figures or ghosts, Quint and a previous governess Miss Jessel. The ghost story has been invested by literary ideas of good and evil and psychology and you might think that the events only take place in the Governesses mind.
Liam Halligan made the play ever so spooky and atmospheric in an excellent set constructed on water like on a lake and a rain effect on a black back cloth was perhaps a touch too far. Bare trees took on weird aspects in the cold lighting and the apparent mix of innocence and evil in the children was gripping.
Today we are used to movies like the 6th Sense and the catch phrase – I can see dead people by James worked in a more basic way and Halligan caught that mood of ambiguity and uncertainty very well.
I occasionally felt the two fine actors playing the children were much too old for the part and as a result part of the horror was blunted. They were Chris Patrick Simpson and Helen Delaney. Ruth McGill was an excellent Governess with Deirdre Monaghan as Mrs. Grose.
Marcus Costello designed and lit this most atmospheric production and Rory Pierce composed a suitably eerie backing track.
Back in the sixties, I saw a movie based on the story – The Innocents with Deborah Kerr as the governess and a scary Oliver Reed as Quint, but this production left so much more to the imagination and was the better for it.
Review: The Jones Gallery
A visit to The Jones Gallery just off Davitt’s Quay in Dungarvan is a must, not just for the work of the three featured artists, Dorian VanBraam, Ken O’Neill and A. C. (Tony) Hayes, but for the sculpture in wood of two horses – two magnificent creatures – rearing up on their hind legs; worth €25,000 the pair.
This fine young artist is exploring a range of technique and style and is moving from figurative work to a more conventional and lucrative, I suppose, still-life studies. SHARP with its cut limes on a dark background is excellent. A trio, THE THREE FACES OF OPTIMISM have pretentious titles but a good study in technique. A full green paper is described as Native And Optimistic; a shrivelled re pepper is Blind and Self-Involved and a decayed pepper is titled, Wise And Reflective. I loved the circular and shadowy La Redonda Os Cura, with the fine detail of crumpled fabric.
The signature Gangster work of Ken O’Neill is attractive as this emerging artist confirms his reputation with a touch of the fedora to Knuttel and Vettriano. O’Neill is charging a lot more these days and some of his bright desert canvases are on offer at between E1950 and E4,200. His dark shadowy work still attracts me to his work especially the magnificent Arrested In The Garden. This Getsamane inspired work is worth E25,000. The influence of American Ten Cent comics is wonderful in Public Enemy No. 1 and The Aristocrat And The Aurocrat.
A. C. Hayes
Elsewhere in the gallery the small canvas work of A. C. Hayes is prominent as his emotional response to Dungarvan. His Bandstand series is particularly beautiful but the almost gawdy colour choices in harbour and Bridge series puzzled me somewhat. There is an excellent Sheila Wood Nude on show. Judy Shinnick from Ardmore has some fine watercolours, especially Let’s Dance and umbrellas in Reflection On Grafton Street.
Lucia Cullinane had a bright pop art work with lips, eyelashes, buttons and patterns to catch the eye.