I never thought I would laugh so much at a ghost story. I am definitely a fully-fledged all-singing, all-dancing and everyone lives happily ever after type of person when it comes to theatre, fear and but there is something about The Woman in Black that has always intrigued me. I never got to see the run at the Fortune Theatre in London, so jumped at the chance to experience the story on my doorstep.
The book was written by Susan Hill in 1983, and whilst it is set in the 1950s (and 1920s) it does feel like a timeless piece. It could be set any time if the dates weren’t mentioned. However, there is definitely something about a Victorian ghost, that gives it authenticity and makes it spookier.
With two actors in the cast, they needed to be at the top of their game, as neither spent much time off stage. Malcom James as Arthur Kipps opened the show and had the audience laughing with his monotonous storytelling at the very start and definitely put us at ease before the main part of the story unfolded. Mark Hawkins as The Actor was the full-of-life, larger-than-life character to contrast Kipps. They were almost like a father and son duo, working together and creating the spectacle for us to enjoy.
It is difficult to talk about a show like this and not to mention the special, lighting, and sound effects. It has all been thought through when the play was first created. Michael Holt’s design, of how to make the different areas of the stage into different spaces and the effects that are used to create the illusions are so clever, it really adds to the story and the tension at the same time. Kevin Sleep’s lighting design was so integral to the story and helped to build the tension throughout. However, Sebastian Frost’s sound design was definitely the element that made the audience jump out of their skins the most. It heightened emotions and added to the atmosphere and is truly the part that made it most like a ghost story for me.
Whilst I had been apprehensive about seeing the show, I thoroughly enjoyed the evening. I’m glad I have seen it and know the secrets, and I am happy to keep them and leave it a while before I revisit Arthur Kipps’ life story.
Reviewer: Jenn McKean
Reviewed: 6th December 2023
North West End UK Rating: