Turn of the Screw

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Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw adapted by Tim Luscombe, 2016


– It’s quite too horrible.
– For sheer terror?
– For dreadful – dreadfulness! For general uncanny ugliness and horror and pain.
– Oh, how delicious!

Henry James’s famous ghost story Turn of the Screw has been rendered fresh and urgent in Tim Luscombe’s new stage adaptation for four actors, which was produced by Dermot McLaughlin, the Mercury Theatre Colchester and Wolverhampton Grand in Spring 2018, and will be revived this year for a further UK tour. Please see https://www.turnofthescrewplay.com/ for full details.

It was published by Oberon books, autumn 2018

A young governess is sent to look after two orphaned children in Bly, an idyllic country house. But shortly after her arrival, she realises that she and the children are not alone when she’s startled by the spectre of a strange man, a figure both frightening and alluring. This ghostly intruder is merely the harbinger of others – ex-inhabitants who’ve returned to haunt the place and threaten the governess’s safety and that of her two young charges.

Determined to prove her value, the governess will risk everything to keep the children safe, even if it means giving herself up to…The Others.

This adaptation remains faithful to James’ much-loved classic, retaining the ambiguity and letting the audience draw their own conclusions about the events in Bly and what actually happened to the governess and the innocents under her protection.

Four actors – three female & one male – play:

– The Governess
– Mrs Conray/Flora
– Mrs Grose
– The Employer, Miles and the Others

Setting: Multi-locational, fluid

Published: Oberon, autumn 2018

Initially Produced: Colchester and UK tour 2018 https://www.turnofthescrewplay.com/

Articles: An article in Neo-Victorian Studies, reviewing the 2018 production.

Selected Reactions

Henry James’ Turn of the Screw is a classic which has had many interpretations and adaptions over the years. This latest version manages to keep all the ambiguity of the original whilst giving the audience a spine-tingling nights entertainment.


Casting new light on the ambiguities central to Henry James’ influential literary ghost story, Tim Luscombe’s Turn of the Screw is intelligent, insightful, and infused with otherworldly menace.

Revelling in the text’s contradictions, his adaptation picks apart the tales’ layered, unreliable narratives, introducing an improved framing device which sees gown-up orphan Flora investigating the sinister events of her youth

Dave Fargnoli, The StageDirector/Producer

At the very heart of every good ghost story is the unexplained and, in Tim Luscombe’s superb adaptation of Henry James’ Turn of the Screw, there is plenty that remains unexplained and a plethora of spooky happenings to keep the audience on the very edge of their seats.

Paul Lucas-Scott, The Sussex NewspaperDirector/Producer
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