• 22nd November 2016

Review: The Woman in Black

Scene from Woman in Black

Currently on the theatre circuit is the original The Woman in Black, which is coming to stages across the UK. I have always wanted to see this production live as I’ve read really positive reviews so I jumped at the chance to get some tickets when I heard it was coming to Exeter’s Northcott Theatre.

Like many of you, I have seen the film version of The Woman in Black starring Daniel Radcliffe as Arthur Kipps. I really didn’t like it. I was so disappointed as I thought it was meant to be a horror but it didn’t horrify me in the slightest! However, I did really like the plotline so I wasn’t put off completely from seeing the stage production. I imagined that seeing it all live in front of me would at least give me Goosebumps and many people had promised me that it would be a terrifying experience.

Adapted by Stephen Mallatratt, the stage version of The Woman in Black takes on a slightly different viewpoint to the film – it has to if it is to work on the stage. Arthur Kipps (David Acton) seeks the creative services of an actor (Matthew Spencer) to help him tell his tale of The Woman in Black to his family and friends in the hope that it will close the door on this terrifying part of his life that still haunts him. What ensues is the actor playing Arthur in front of us as the audience whilst the real Arthur Kipps plays all the supporting characters.

In brief and without giving away too much, The Woman in Black tells the story of a solicitor, Arthur Kipps, who is sent to the little town of Crythin Gifford to visit Eal Marsh House to orchestrate the sale of the estate and go through any important documents as the owner, Alice Drablow has died. What follows is a number of ghostly encounters with a mysterious Woman in Black who keeps popping up. The town’s residents are reluctant to talk about the woman and the curse that she beholds. The story has a wonderful twist at the end but you will have to go and see the stage production to find out what it is!

Scene from Woman in Black

©Tristram Kenton 10/14

By telling the story through a two-man band, plus of course the mysterious Woman in Black, the production encourages us to use our imagination which I found such a remarkable experience. Nowadays, we are so used to letting special effects tell the story for us that we forget the power of imagination. This production uses only a handful of basic props such as a couple of chairs and a trunk that are used in a number of ways. I found that this added to the magic and creativity of the production, which was so unique, and unlike anything I had watched before.

The script itself was incredibly well written. It reminded me of English lessons at school where we learnt about descriptive writing! This was descriptive writing at it’s very best! My mind absorbed the script and allowed me to imagine Arthurs haunted surroundings right in front of my very eyes.

Touches of light-hearted humour throughout were a welcome break from the fear that was felt throughout the theatre. It allowed the audience to not completely lose their minds!

Lastly, the acting was superb. I honestly think both actors performed incredibly and I’ve never seen acting like it. David Acton transformed into many characters in front of our eyes perfectly – sometimes I couldn’t believe that it was the same man!

Overall, this is a wonderful show and truly did scare me. I’m quite hard to scare so that is saying something! I thoroughly recommend booking your tickets now. A list of future tour dates can be found here.

Have you seen The Woman in Black? What did you think? Tweet me @SheWhoLives1 or leave a comment below.

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