Sunday, 23 April 2017

REVIEW: The Woman in Black at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking


Celebrating nearly 30 years as an award winning stage show, the Woman in Black has won a legion of new fans since a certain Harry Potter star led a movie adaptation.

The play is significantly better and stronger than the film and this new UK tour continues to delight and scare its audience. Despite performing for three decades, the Woman in Black continually finds new scares and thrills in this tight script and adapts to the space well. 

This version has more humour and wit than fans of the film would expect and this is a great device to lure the audience into a relaxed and false sense of security. Once their guard is down, the horror has more impact and there are many well placed jumps and gasps amongst the audience.

Robin Hereford’s clever and suspenseful direction respects the script and gives his two strong performers, David Acton and Matthew Spencer, space to bring the story to life. Acton is a perfect Arthur Kipps; full of fear and confusion and bursting with a desire to get his story told. He morphs adeptly between the other characters in the tale, turning his hand at drama and comedy with ease. Spencer plays the Actor; confident, charming and dazzles as the tension is ramped up towards the end of each act.

The key to this production is its simplicity. This play has been performed all over the world in a number of different types of venues and it is the simplicity of the performance that makes it still so powerful. Relying just on the storytelling prowess of its talented actors, minimalist set and sparse soundtrack, Woman in Black doesn’t need any gimmicks or breath-taking effects to draw the audience
in.

Not needing the special effects of the Daniel Radcliffe film, the Woman in Black grips the audience tight and relies on their imagination, harnessing this until the very end. This is a gloomy, dark and spine tingling production that will no doubt be enjoyed by audiences for many years to come.

Review by Andy Edmeads 

Rating: ★★★★

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