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The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, dramatized by Neville Teller

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Drama on BBC Radio 4 Extra

BBC Radio 4 Extra, 19 April 2013
 
The effect of Peter Leslie Wild's production hinged on one inescapable fact - that the Governess (Cathy Sara) really did see the ghost of Peter Quint.  The experience proves so traumatic that it affected her mind; she became obsessed with "saving" the children Miles (Joseph Tremain) and Flora (Lulu Popplewell), even though there appeared to be nothing amiss at Bly.  Mrs. Grose (Tina Grey) understood the Governess' disturbed mental state and tries her best to protect the children.  However her efforts proved futile: Miles was quite literally scared to death at the end of the adaptation.
 
The production forged a suggestive link between Douglas (Robert Lister), the uncle - renamed "Sir George" - (Jonathan Keeble), and the Governess through the use of vocal elisions.  Douglas began the narrative, but his voice was soon superseded by that of Sir George, followed by the Governess.  This suggested two things: first, that Douglas was recounting the tale in the present to his friend Griffin (Ian Brooker), and expecting occasional comments on what he had said.  Douglas was the omniscient narrator: what we heard about the Governess and Sir George had been filtered through his consciousness. 
 
Secondly, the vocal elisions suggested some kind of connection between Douglas, Sir George and the Governess.  As a young and rather na´ve girl (the Bly engagement was her first job), the Governess felt close to the two men and looked for guidance from them.  When none ensued, she found herself unable to cope with the twin pressures of looking after the children and dealing with the ghostly Quint.
 
Wild's production emphasized her mental changes through violin music which became more and more insistent as the action progressed.  In the final sequence the Governess' narrative was almost inaudible -- that is, until the novella's final lines, when the music abruptly ceased, leaving the Governess to describe Miles' demise in hushed tones, almost as if she could not quite believe what she had done.