Turn of the Screw

Actress Nichole Hamilton and actor Christopher Swan star in the Hippodrome Theatre's production of "Turn of the Screw."

What's twice as frightening as a ghost?

Two ghosts.

The Hippodrome Theatre's latest production, "Turn of the Screw," based on the 1898 novella by Henry James, tells the story of a governess (Nichole Hamilton) who, while caring for 10-year-old Miles and his sister, Flora, faces the ghosts of her predecessor and her lover.

Director Lauren Caldwell said she chose to work with "Turn of the Screw" because of the theatricality involved in the production, as there are no props or costume changes.

"It's a real actor's piece," Caldwell said. "It's magical to watch without relying on outfits."

Rather than one actor being assigned to each character, Caldwell's performers pose as different characters; Christopher Swan plays the master of the Bly manor, the housekeeper (Mrs. Grose) and Miles.

"There's a lot of theatricality when the governess is the only constant character," Caldwell said. "The male character makes up her entire world; he threads the characters together."

Although his roles are male and female, young and old, Swan said he has no difficulty maintaining his characters.

"The play is totally actor-driven," he said. "I just inhabit the truth and let my body follow suit."

Hamilton said that while the language of "Turn of the Screw" is still dense, this adaptation is more accessible for a contemporary audience.

"The book gives more answers, but the play gives more questions," she said. "That's what makes it so exciting."

According to Caldwell, part of the appeal of "Turn of the Screw" is its ambiguity.

"The journey is left up to the person riding on the tailcoats of the governess' outfit," she said. "The audience decides the legitimacy of her visions."

In a timely fashion, Caldwell said the show fits into the Hippodrome's Halloween theme based on its eerie nature and ghost motif.

"Turn of the Screw" opened preview shows Wednesday and runs through Nov. 6. Ticket prices range from $12 to $32. For more information, call 352-375-4477 or visit thehipp.org.