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Theatre Review: The Woman In Black @ The Fortune Theatre

20th June 2016

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An adaptation of Susan's Hill novel of the same name, since 1989 London’s Fortune Theatre has been home to The Woman in Black - and almost three decades since its opening night, it is still a real privilege to see the spine chilling play in its home theatre. 

The story, much like the book, begins with an old and fragile Arthur Kipps beginning to read aloud his account of the terrible events he has endured.

He is however, shortly interrupted by an actor who informs him that he is reading the story much too tediously. Mr. Kipps has enlisted the help of the actor to help him retell his story to his family in an enjoyable and realistic way.

The retelling of the story then begins with the actor adopting the role of Mr. Kipps and Mr. Kipps taking on the roles of the story's other characters. We are taken from Kipps’ arrival at Eel Marsh house to his first encounter of The Woman in Black.

The Fortune Theatre is a small venue, which makes the play hugely intense. Being close to the stage and the actors is extremely intimate, drawing the audience into the story. As Kipps experiences scares so do we: glimpses of a dark figure in a corner, the sound of a rocking chair moving on its own, and blood curdling screams. The whole experience has the audience on the edge of their seats, nervously waiting for an appearance from The Woman In Black.

The lights are dim throughout, with fog frequently rising amongst the stage and the crowd, restricting the view of the stage. The audience anticipates an appearance from the eponymous woman at every moment. She appears when least expected, terrifyingly - a pale, wasted figure appearing and disappearing in an instance. 

The play would of course be nothing without the fantastic actors who portray the characters. Malcolm James and Matt Connor are the sole performers and they are both incredible, playing the characters’ parts brilliantly. We feel empathy with Samuel Daily, fear with Arthur, and the two actors bounce off each other's energy brilliantly, bringing a comedic element to the production.

Whether you like ghost stories or not this play is worth your time. The thrill, fear and apprehension experienced is most definitely worth every penny, and seeing such talented actors portray the parts is fantastic.

The Woman in Black is arguably one of the greatest ghost stories ever to be written, and this theatre adaptation is a truly frightful treat. 

The Woman in Black is playing at the Fortune Theatre, London, andv will be touring the UK from September 2016. Find all the tour dates here.  

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