Pros: A perfect venue dripping with atmosphere and an eerie sense of expectation.
Cons: Hysterically shrieking members of the audience breaking the tension.
A neat two hander, the story begins with Arthur Kipps, played by Stuart Fox, rehearsing a performance of the haunting of Eel Marsh House with the Actor, played by Joseph Chance. The performance is for the benefit of family and friends, but he begins to relive horrific experiences from several years in the past when, as a junior solicitor, he attended the funeral of reclusive widow Alice Drablow, who lived alone in the desolate Eel March House. At the funeral, he sees a woman dressed in black with a pale face and dark eyes. Even more spookily, while sorting through Mrs Drablow’s papers at Eel Marsh House, he experiences a terrifying sequence of unexplained noises and chilling events.
So who exactly was the woman in black and why is Kipps still haunted by these memories so many years later? A fantastically entertaining two hour performance gradually reveals all, using the simplest of visual enhancements and most powerful storytelling; it had everyone jumping out of their seats. Some smart direction uses tricks perfected by the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. Things we assume are happening are not necessarily in view, so fear builds in the imagination of the audience….and we all know our imagination knows no bounds. Dry ice, a standard prop for all ghost stories is thankfully kept to a minimum, and spectacularly good sound effects guarantee some spine-tingling moments. Stuart Fox and Joseph Chance are both excellent in their respective roles and play off each other perfectly as the story reaches a crescendo.
My only gripe was the behaviour of some audience members during the show. I naturally expected the odd scream and collective intake of breath, but a group of excitable drama students were intent on wailing like banshees at every possible opportunity. Ok guys you want to act, but you were viewers not players on this occasion. React to what you see but don’t over react!
Author: Susan Hill
Adapted by: Stephen Mallatratt
Director: Robin Herford
Box Office: 0844 871 7626
Booking Link: http://thewomaninblack.com/ticket-info
Booking until: September 2017