Review: The Woman In Black @ New Theatre
The Woman In Black is in many ways one of the most successful works of British theatre.
With 26 years on stage in London, just how scary is this show? Is it worth the hype?
Based on Susan Hill's acclaimed book and written for the stage by Stephen Mallatratt, the story involves a young actor and a writer-cum-"performer". Mr Kipps' story must be staged and The Actor is to bring it to life. With the line between storyteller, performer and the actual person blurred, the stage is set (quite literally) for a play of immense fear making and suspense building.
This is a very creepy show with near unbearable moments. When the actor who is now playing Mr Kipps for the play hears creaking, he ascends a large gothic staircase at the back of the set, then towards a door, stroked by severe red lighting. These two moments alone had the audience in agonised suspense, the critic behind me stating "I can't take this!" The story would reveal too much of the ending so it's just best to see it for yourselves.
The two actors were brilliant in all their roles. Matt Connor being a gentleman and taking most of the spooky happens in his stride, the line "he never believed in ghosts" spoken of several times. Malcolm James, who masterfully must have played around half a dozen roles here, as Mr Kipps is pathetic but engaging, as his acting in the play within the play oddly gets better. I loved how the audience had to use their imagination to picture his dog Spider, an old mutt proven by the slowness of the both actors acknowledging the animal in its movements.
The brilliant decision to not have the actress who played The Lady take a bow at the end (you still see her face lingering as the curtain call is over), or be billed in the programme also adds a chilling effect.
Utterly terrifying theatre.
Rating: 4 stars
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