Entertainment & Arts

Hammer takes first steps on stage in Turn of the Screw

Anna Madeley (l) and Gemma Jones (r) star in The Turn of the Screw
Image caption Anna Madeley (l) and Gemma Jones (r) lead the cast in The Turn of the Screw

British horror brand Hammer is taking its first steps into the world of live theatre in a new stage adaptation of The Turn of the Screw.

Rebecca Lenkiewicz's play, based on the classic ghost tale by Henry James, opens in January at London's Almeida theatre.

Hammer Theatre of Horror has a co-production credit for the first time.

Hammer boss Simon Oakes said it was a "toe in the water" and the company was keen to explore more theatre projects.

Earlier this year Hammer production The Woman In Black, starring Daniel Radcliffe, became the highest-grossing British horror film of the past 20 years.

As well as films, the brand has also branched out into book publishing with recent titles from Jeanette Winterson and Helen Dunmore.

Oakes said the new version of The Turn of the Screw was ideal for Hammer Theatre of Horror's inaugural project.

"It's very much at the creative centre of what we're trying to do in the rebooted Hammer," he told the BBC.

"It's really a toe in the water. The Hammer name is there as a co-producer [with Act Productions] - it wasn't a project we developed ourselves.

"For us it's about understanding the dynamics. The long-term idea is to create shows that can then become content for our film business as well."

The Turn of the Screw tells the story of a governess who arrives at a remote estate to care for a nephew and niece after the death of their parents.

Published in 1898, the story has been adapted for film, TV, radio and the stage on numerous occasions. The best-known film version is 1961's The Innocents, starring Deborah Kerr and Michael Redgrave.

The cast for the Almeida production, announced on Friday, includes Gemma Jones as the housekeeper Mrs Grose and Anna Madeley as 'The Governess'.

The production will be directed by Lindsay Posner, whose recent credits include Uncle Vanya at the Vaudeville Theatre, Abigail's Party for the Menier Chocolate Factory and Noises Off for the Old Vic.

Hammer was founded in the 1930s, though it was not until the 1950s that its name became synonymous with the horror genre.

Its run of monster movies included Dracula and The Curse of Frankenstein, which made stars of such British actors as Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.

After lying dormant since the 1980s, the company and its back catalogue were bought in 2007 by a consortium with Simon Oakes as CEO.

The Turn of the Screw runs at the Almeida from 18 January to 16 March 2013.

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