, January 2009
What Katie Mitchell has devised is a highly evocative film to go with a performance of The Turn of the Screw. The result is very different from a conventional staging, with the singers, for much of the time, acting out their roles without being seen singing. The performance itself is excellent, with Richard Hickox drawing taut playing from the City of London Sinfonia in support of a first-rate cast. Lisa Milne (as the Governess) and Diana Montague make an impressive duo, vocally outstanding, though the small, buxom Milne and the tall, statuesque Montague are visually the wrong way round. Mark Padmore is superb as Peter Quint and as the Prologue, establishing himself as the most mellifluous of Britten tenors, while Catrin Wyn Davies sings with a rich mezzo as Miss Jessel. The children both sing and act beautifully, very well cast, genuinely youthfully exuberant. A distinctive version with many great qualities, most of all in presenting the full horror of the story, set against an eerie background.