Anita Jones: Gary, firstly can you tell us a bit about the play?
Gary Cook: It's a truly classic ghost story - not a horror story, no blood and guts, just shadows and ideas. It's based on the Henry James novella of the same name - simply put, and not to give too much away, a naive young governess arrives at a county house to look after two orphaned children. At first, all seems well, but…
AJ: So it's a haunted house story?
GC: At its heart, yes. Although the original has been subject to endless debate - centering around the sanity or otherwise of the governess, and the exact nature of the evil she encounters. The text brings up many interpretations, from the supernatural to the frankly awful…
AJ: What can we expect in terms of style?
GC: I've aimed to present it as a very visual show - I've always had in mind the old BBC "Ghost Story at Christmas" look and feel - where ideas matter just as much as the suggested "horrors". I think that's very much in keeping with James' original intention.
AJ: How have you interpreted the ideas?
GC: With the fantastic cast we've assembled, we've really worked together on getting to the heart of the text and incorporating lots of different ideas into a coherent whole - we really want the audience to make up their own minds on what they are seeing, while not being obscure.
AJ: But will we see the ghosts?
G:C Oh yes!
AJ: So is this not for children?
GC: Hmm, I'd be happy for any age to see it to be honest (laughs) though of course not real youngsters. I first saw "The Innocents" (the classic film based on The Turn of the Screw) when I was around 10 or 11. It was probably a formative experience for me, and along with "Oliver!" got me interested in the visual side of storytelling. With the help of Martin Oakley, my very talented set designer, and his lovely set, I'm very much trying to bring that high-contrast monochrome look of a 1960s thriller film to the Barn Theatre.
AJ: The old question - why should someone come and see the play?
GC: It's a spine-chilling story, presented in a very visual way with a team of outstanding actors and a passionate vision. Genuinely thrilling to be involved in - and to watch!
Southwick's lovely Barn Theatre is a great space, just 15 minutes from Brighton and Worthing - with free car parking, and tickets priced at just £11.
The Turn Of The Screw runs from 7-10 March 2018 at the Barn Theatre, Southwick Street, Southwick BN42 4TE. Tickets are on sale now from 01273 597094 or www.southwickplayers.org.uk - CLICK HERE for more info.
Featured Photo: L-R back row Nikki Dunsford, Andrew Wesby
L-R front row Kate Stoner, Bertie Atkinson, Nina Hayward, Keziah Israel