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The Woman in Black
August 9th - August 14th
A lawyer obsessed with a curse that he believes has been cast over him and his family by the spectre of a Woman in Black engages a sceptical young actor to help him tell his terrifying story and exorcise the fear that grips his soul.
It all begins innocently enough, but then, as they reach further into his darkest memories, they find themselves caught up in a world of eerie marshes and moaning winds. Join the millions of theatre goers worldwide who have experienced “The most brilliantly effective spine-chiller you will ever encounter” (Daily Telegraph).
Continuing its record breaking run at the Fortune Theatre in London’s West End, THE WOMAN IN BLACK now embarks on a major UK Tour! Susan Hill’s acclaimed ghost story comes dramatically alive in Stephen Mallatratt’s ingenious stage adaptation. This gripping production, directed by Robin Herford, is a brilliantly successful study in atmosphere, illusion and controlled horror.
A MASTERPIECE’ The Guardian
Running time: approx 2 hours 5 minutes, including interval.
This event was originally due to take place on 11th-16th May 2020/1st-6th February 2021/12th-17th April 2021. We have contacted all existing ticketholders to either transfer or refund tickets. If you have a query please call the box office on 01684 892277 (Mon-sat, 9.30am-5.30pm).
The View From The Stalls
With its roots very much anchored in the North East (written by Scarborough-born Susan (now Dame Susan) Hill and premiering at Alan Ayckbourne's Stephen Joseph Theatre in the town back in 1987), The Woman In Black has been a remarkable and deservedly successful chilling piece of theatre. Once the idea had come about of adapting the original book as an inexpensive end-of-year filler, the late Stephen Mallatratt took the novel's dozen or so characters and cleverly created a script which could be played by just two actors (quite the opposite of the film version which expanded the characters to suit a much larger cast - and budget).
Director Robin Herford - who has led the play's development ever since that first showing in Scarborough, through its permanent residency in London and across various tours over the decades - regularly has the task of not just choosing two talented actors but also keeping the show fresh for audiences who return for another frightening evening. This time, the job falls to Robert Goodale who plays Arthur Kipps, a solicitor who needs his story to be told, and Antony Eden who plays "the actor" approached by Kipps to help him tell his tale. Kipps, however, is no actor himself, nor does he profess to be nor does not wish his tale to be a "performance". "The actor" on the other hand has a different view, rightly pointing out that his tale would take over 5 hours to tell and would send his audience to sleep…
The play begins with him reading his story in the most unimaginably boring way possible (deliberately so - that is not a comment on the actor's skill!). As the story unfolds and looks back 30 years or so, the two actors switch parts. Eden plays the younger Kipps and Goodale takes on all of the other characters. Not that this is ever confusing, even though it is done with minimal stage scenery and just a couple of different costumes. Kipps (the elder) cannot for instance imagine how a pony and trap could ever be convincing on stage if there wasn't actually a pony and trap on stage. In fact, the "pony and trap" is a large wicker basket, the same wicker basket which is also a solicitor's desk, a railway carriage, an altar, a bed... And that lies at the very heart of this scary production because, unlike in the film, the audience is drawn into the story by means of that most terrifyingly human possession - the imagination. You don't have to see a pony and trap to believe there is a pony and trap. You don't have to see a ghost to believe there is a ghost...
Throughout the play, there are sound and visual effects designed to shock (all thankfully "harmless" according to the programme!) - and they certainly did with the audience responding appropriately! There are equally moments of humour, for example the dog called Spider (invisible, of course). But these moments are designed to lull you into a false sense of security for there is always another unexpected scare just around the corner. Kudos, then, to the team behind these clever, unexpected and perfectly-timed moments of horror.
Both actors are excellent in their roles (particularly when at the very beginning you wonder why this boring rambling actor ever got the part!) and very capably and believably get you to believe the unbelievable. A perfectly shocking night out!
I'm afraid I wasn't overly impressed with the play, but that is only a personal opinion, the 2 actors were indeed very good but 1 or 2 more would of been better, also concerned at social distancing in the theatre, we were in a solid group of people all sat next to each other, even though it was only 30% full, we moved to a safer area after the break.