★★★★ | The Woman in Black
Set in an old theatre in the late 1950s, a solicitor, Arthur Kipps, enlists the assistance of a young actor to tell his story. His tale revolves around a terrifying incident when he was younger, when he travelled to Eel Marsh House to settle the estate of a long-standing deceased client. Alone in his client’s mansion, he is plagued by the sound of a pony and trap, an unexplained banging noise and a door which appears to be locked from the inside. What secrets does the estate hold? And who is the woman in black he keeps seeing?
This effective ghost story is beautifully crafted and uses simple techniques to create a very taught atmosphere. The lighting design, in particular, was incredibly well done – who would have thought that a dark stage with just a door highlighted would draw worried mumblings from those around you? The production slowly cranks up the tension, drawing you to the edge of your seat and then throwing you back into it with some effective jump scares.
The narrative of the show remains faithful to the original novel, and the production avoids spoon-feeding you the story, leaving you to create your own horrors in your imagination. The set, staging and props were remarkably effective in their simplicity and created an atmosphere where you held your breath with the central character as he explored the darkness; and the way in which the audience is manipulated via the events unfolding on stage is testament to the quality of writing behind the show and the impressive performances of the two actors, Robert Goodale and Daniel Easton.
The Woman In Black is well-crafted fireside ghost story which proves that there is more to what is unseen than what is seen. This show is a chilling pre-Halloween treat and a perfect way to spend a dark, stormy winter evening.
In between visits to the theatre, watching films, photography, walking, scuba diving and singing (badly); Paul writes for TheGayUK.