Monday, 10 June 2019

REVIEW: Woman in Black at the Fortune Theatre

This week marks the 30th anniversary of Susan Hill’s thriller The Woman in Black on the West End. Adapted for the stage by Stephen Mallatratt, the novel was written in 1983 and has since been made into two films, as well as being a prominent part of schools’ education (it is often the studied material for English GCSE students). This has, as Producer Peter Wilson pointed out at the Gala night on Wednesday ‘lowered the average age of West End audiences… And probably the average ticket price also’. 

The Woman in Black is a gothic horror story; an actor persuades Mr Kipps to tell his ghost story from many years ago. Their recreation tells the tale of how the young Mr Kipps travels to a remote part of England in search of an old woman’s legal documents after her passing. On his arrival, the villagers seem to be keeping a secret from him and he discovers the ghostly tale of a vengeful woman who appears in creepy situations and inexplicably causes the death of children. It is a surprisingly amusing play and has been directed fantastically by Robin Hereford. It is completely admirable that the play has continued for so long without going stale and still has the ability to frighten audiences from all over the world. 

Stuart Fox perfect multi-rolled as Arthur Kipps (and many others) alongside the brilliant Matthew Spencer as The Actor. Being a historical spooky story, the show is not outdated in the slightest and these two captivated the audience from start to finish. 

Considering the simplicity of the set, Michael Holt’s design led our imaginations to fill in the gaps and transports us on a journey through time and to the remote location of Eel Marsh House. Kevin Sleep’s lighting design is spectacular and created atmosphere in the darkest scenes. His use of silhouettes was particularly effective.

There was a beautiful moment, after the show had finished, when Hereford asked the audience to stand if they had ever performed in Woman in Black. Almost the entire audience stood. Countless actors have held this show together over its 30 years and upheld its excellent reputation. The Woman in Black guarantees an enjoyable evening and promises a good scare too!

Review by Hannah Storey

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: Stalls G4 | Price of Ticket: £32
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