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... Read more
One of the West End’s longest-running plays, The Woman in Black has been terrifying audiences in London since 1989.
Based on Susan Hill’s novel of the same name, The Woman in Black tells the story of Arthur Kipps, a solicitor who is sent to the remote town of Crythin Gifford to attend the funeral of a client, during which he sees a mysterious woman dressed in black. He is tasked with sorting his client’s papers, and so visits Eel Marsh House where she used to live. In the play, Kips enlists the assistance of an actor to help tell the unsettling things he witnessed.
The cast for The Woman in Black currently features Matthew Spencer as The Actor and Stuart Fox as Arthur Kipps. The play’s original cast featured Charles Kay as Arthur Kipps and John Duttine as The Actor.
The play first opened in Scarborough in 1987 before transferring to London’s Lyric Hammersmith in 1989. It has run at the Fortune Theatre since August of that year, and is the West End’s second longest-running non-musical production, behind The Mousetrap.
Daniel Radcliffe famously starred in a Hollywood film adaptation of the novel in 2012, taking on the role of Arthur Kipps. The film also starred Ciarán Hinds, Janet McTeer and Sophie Stuckey, and was praised for its chilling horror. A sequel, Angel of Death, was released in 2015 based on a different short story by Susan Hill.
Hill’s novel has become a staple piece of literature on many school curricula, with many classes experiencing the play to aid their studies. Despite the success of the book and the films, there is no substitution for seeing the spine-tingling horrors of The Woman in Black live, on-stage.
Proud and solitary, Eel Marsh House surveys the windswept reaches of the salt marshes beyond Nine Lives Causeway. Arthur Kipps , a junior solicitor, is summoned to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow, the house's sole inhabitant, unaware of the tragic secrets which lie hidden behind the shuttered windows. It is not until he glimpses a wasted young woman, dressed all in black, at the funeral, that a creeping sense of unease begins to take hold, a feeling deepened by the reluctance of the locals to talk of the woman in black - and her terrible purpose. Years later, as an old man, he recounts his experiences to an actor in a desperate attempt to exorcise the ghosts of the past. The play unfolds around the conversations of these two characters as they act out the solicitor's experiences on Eel Marsh all those years ago.