The Woman in Black Review

  • Date:
    Tuesday, January 29, 2002
    Review by:
    Darren Dalglish

    NOTE: These are older reviews - the cast has changed many times!

    It has been nearly 6 years since I last saw “The Woman In Black”, so I thought it was about time I went to see it again to ascertain whether it is still as fresh as when I last saw it. The answer is a resounding yes!

    This thriller, adapted by Stephen Mallatratt from the novel by Susan Hill, has been running at the Fortune Theatre since February 1989 and one can see why as it is a thrilling ghost story that has you jumping out of your seat with fright.

    It is a clever tale that is full of surprises and suspense. The story concerns a young solicitor who is sent to wind up the affairs of a recently deceased woman. However, the dead woman had led a reclusive life in a remote and mysterious house. He discovers he has to wind up her affairs without any help from the locals who will not approach the house because they believe the house is cursed! Years later, and this is where the play actually begins, he recounts his ghostly experiences with the aid of an actor/director, who helps him prepare to tell his story in front of his family and friends in a desperate bid to exorcise the ghosts of the past.

    It is extraordinary that with the most basic props, minimal set, a few sound effects along with the atmosphere of the drama and your own imagination this play can scare you stiff! Although, I will say I find the theatre -which is not very big- is in itself hauntingly eerie! Even going to the Upper Circle toilets is a creepy experience, particularly if you are by yourself.

    It is directed by Robin Herford, who directed the original cast in 1987 when the show first opened at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, and has directed all subsequent casts. The latest cast, Christopher Ravenscroft and Sebastian Harcombe is the 23rd combination. And it is this consistent cast change, approximately every 6 months that keeps the show fresh.

    A brilliant thriller that is a must see!

    (Darren Dalglish)

    This thriller, which recently celebrated 3000 West End performances and is now the second longest running play in the West End is undoubtedly the most spine chilling ghost story ever told on stage. Adapted by Stephen Mallatratt from the novel by Susan Hill, it is the story of a young solicitor sent to wind up the affairs of a recently deceased woman. Years later, he recounts his experiences, desperate to exorcise the ghosts of the past.

    The cast of two are excellent, Barry Stanton as Arthur Kipps, and Michael Higgs as the actor employed by Kipps to help his tell his tale, are both adept at keeping the tension levels high.

    If you are the kind of person who enjoys being scared witless, then this is the show for you. It is cleverly written, and directed to keep you on the edge of your seat. The simple set is effective, and the special effects remarkably real.

    It is not hard to see why this show has lasted so long, I sincerely hope that it makes it through another 3,000 performances.

    (Jason L Belne)

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