Newest Review: ... lights go down, more smoke is put into the theatre and the story begins. Arthur Kipps (played by Ken Drury) takes the stage and begins ... more
Unique and captivating minimalist theatre
Woman in Black
Member Name: DancingCopper
Woman in Black
Advantages: You will be scared, VERY scared
Disadvantages: If you were expecting a west end musical, you made a mistake
I have seen The Woman in Black four times. As an avid theatre goer, I invite you to a unique and engaging performance. As a Drama teacher, I invite you to experience a superb example of what Antonin Artaud called 'Theatre of Cruelty'.
Susan Hill, the writer of the novel on which Stephen Mallatrat based the play, had a simple idea. She trawled through a mountain of gothic tales and ghost stories, looking for the basic formula that would grip a reader, scare and thrill them. In my opinion, the novel is good.
What Mallatrat does with the stage play is inspired. Rather than adapting the novel directly, he creates a piece of meta-theatre that not only overcomes the limitations of a theatre and cynicism of a modern audience, but embraces them.
The play opens with a virtually bare stage and two characters. One is a young, virile and enthusiastic Actor. The other, an older uncomfortable gentleman, Arthur Kipps. The unfolding plot of play has been written by Kipps who wants to - no, needs to - relay it to his family. He has come to the Actor for lessons.
These opening scenes draw us into the style of the play. The bare stage is peppered with simple objects, a couple of chairs, a bucket. These are used to create an office, a railway carriage and numerous other spatial features. The actors play all the parts between the two of them - the Actor takes on the role of a younger Arthur Kipps, while Kipps takes on every other part who interacts with him. Each of these characters has their own physical and vocal traits, and it must be an exhausting role for an actor.
The first half of the show provides exposition and the opportunity for the audience to get used to the minimalist approach. Of the many students I have taken to see the show, very few have maintained a cynical disassociation from the narrative throughout the play. We gradually lose the framing device of Actor tutoring Kipps and are drawn wholey into Kipps' tragic story.
To reveal more about the plot would be to spoil the experience for you. If you want additional information, or to learn more about the evolution of the novel into the play, have a look at the official website.
This contains a teachers resource pack full of interviews and background information.
The show is suitable for everyone. It is scary, VERY scary, not because of any gore or horrific action - but because it plays with your mind in very simple, effective ways. Young children might like it, but they might be a little too scared. Personally, I'd take my niece, and she's five.
You can see the show as part of a hotel package. If you want to book tickets independently I recomment the half price ticket booth in Leicester Square. They always have tickets available for the Woman in Black, but you should arrive early and you don't get to choose where you sit.
Now, go and see it!
Summary: Nothing else like it in theatre land, an exciting and terrifyingly effective ghost story
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