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The Woman in Black

Theatre, Drama Fortune Theatre , Covent Garden Until Saturday September 26 2020
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(44user reviews)
The Woman in Black, Fortune Theatre, 2020
Photograph: Tristram Kenton

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Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

This pitch black staging of Susan Hill's thriller is irresistibly eerie

It's been decades since this skillful adaptation of Susan Hill's 1983 Gothic horror story first started setting West End audience a-shiver. 'The Woman in Black' remains perennially popular – particularly, it seems, with generally hard-to-please teenagers – which is testament to its rough-theatre appeal and the extraordinary and enduring potency, not of guts, gore or special effects, but of simple suggestion.

Ageing Arthur Kipps is haunted by sinister events that befell him 30 years earlier. In an effort to exorcise his demons, he hires an actor to help him tell his story for an invited audience.

As they rehearse, though, their staging itself becomes prey to supernatural visitations from the titular hatchet-faced, whip-thin, funereally garbed woman. Stephen Mallatratt's dramatisation and a deft production by Robin Herford exploit the peculiarly spooky atmosphere of an empty theatre, making us, as an audience, feel almost like spectral voyeurs. And the chills are irresistibly effective: swirling fog, a creaking rocking chair, a locked door, a pale visage looming out of the gloom.

Only occasionally does the staging show its age. The projected image of the gaunt, sinister house of Kipps' tormented memory looks hopelessly cheap and crude, and a graveyard conjured with dust sheets struggles to convince, even within the low-tech aesthetic parameters of the piece.

Yet the shrieks and gasps that greet the performance demonstrate that, even in the twenty-first century, this doughty little drama still casts its delicious spell of malevolence and menace.

This review is from 2004. The cast of 'The Woman in Black' now includes Stuart Fox (Mr Kipps) and Joseph Chance (The Actor).

How to get cheap tickets: The Fortune Theatre does not offer day seats. Special reductions are available for parties of eight or more.



Venue name: Fortune Theatre
Address: Russell Street
Transport: Tube: Covent Garden/Holborn
Price: £21.50-£72.50. Runs 2hr

Users say (44)

4 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

3.9 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:20
  • 4 star:12
  • 3 star:3
  • 2 star:5
  • 1 star:4
1 person listening

I did screeeemmmm 😱. The first part is a bit slow but once it picks up its pace, it's a tad scary😨🤯😱. The part before the interval needs to be re-looked at as for the first 15-20 minutes they talk and talk about one man performing abilities and if he can or cannot read the script. We all know the story-line but it still makes you jump when the woman appears or the chair is rocking, you know what I mean 😉. It is actually amazing that without an advanced technology tricks, which can be used in a movie/cinema, but live on stage, they managed to create a spooky atmosphere and an illusion of a ghost appearance. Well done! It shows in the Fortune theatre for almost 30 years and the venue is perfect for such play. 


This is a truly wonderful show! In the first 5 minutes, I admit that I was concerned. There are only two actors and a quite simple set. However, I was won over very quickly. It's honestly the best play I've seen and the simplicity makes it all the better! The acting is fantastic! I was laughing one minute and screaming the next. Every part of me wanted to leave because I was scared but I was glued to my seat out of fascination. I have been recommending this show to everyone, however, I do advise that you take someone along with you - I don't think I could have seen this alone! I was happily up in the cheap seats and felt that the view was still very good - I didn't seem to miss anything. Overall - LOVE IT!


A great show with brilliant acting. The storyline was gripping, however having going to see this after watching the film, knew what to expect, and found it to be a little slow at times. There was only 2 actors and very little in terms of props and special effects, however the show was still engaging and very scary at times. The theatre was only small and had a very eerie feel, perfectly adding to the scary atmosphere. If I was to go again, I’d make sure to sit downstairs, closest to the isle as possible.


This adaptation of Susan Hill's bone chilling novel is nothing short of pure genius. The story is captivating and engaging and has successfully frightened the pants off me at the ages of 16, 18 and 26 respectfully. It's a testament of the power of theatre that a play with only two actors (or three if you count the ghostly apparition that appears often without warning and frightening close to your seat) and minimal props can so utterly capture an audience. 

Whilst cinema is ever evolving in terms of it's special effects, this play is a reminder that live theatre can instil that creeping sense of dread that feels almost inescapable. 

Sure, the cast ask you to suspend your disbelief but as the production kicks up a gear you'll find yourself truly believing that a wicker hamper is in fact a horse and cart, that a well lit backcloth is actually a haunted mansion and that the white face that bursts through the blackness at any given second is actually a ghost hell bent on revenge. 

A fantastic evening for lovers of a truly creepy ghost story. 

Adapted from Susan Hill's novel, The Woman In Black is a classic high octane Victorian ghost story. An ageing man, Arthur Kipps, employs an actor to look into unfolding sinister events 30 years previously around Eel Marsh House. Now in its 28th year, The Woman In Black continues to enthrall international audiences with twists, turns, and unexpected developments, leaving audiences on the edge of their seats.


So great I've seen it twice. The brilliance of this production is in its simplicity and yet how powerful it can be. Based on Susan Hill's book of the same name, the story is about a lawyer trying to come to terms with his fateful encounter with the Woman In Black by employing an actor to tell his story. It is the incredibly portrayal of the story and the scares that has kept me going back to see it. A masterclass in building tension, suspense and scares!


I didn't know what to expect from this production but I was floored by the performance. The theater is intimate and how they use the space to tell the story is utterly mind blowing. I really recommend going to see Woman in Black if you get the chance, you honestly won't be disappointed and I thought it was 100% better than then film.  


I saw this play at the Richmond theatre.A great production with a very small cast. Different to the film that many of you will be familiar with. Some real jump out of your seats moments.


This theatre production has been around for some time in London, and it is credit to how gripping it is. It has also been recently turned into a film (which I did not watch since I think once you know the ending it doesn’t really make sense to watch anymore) and shows how popular it is with audiences world-wide. Most of the audience seemed to be tourists when I was watching, and many in the audience were teenagers or younger. I guess that is the demographic who love a nice little scare or 2. Yes this play is definitely VERY scary and VERY shocking. Be prepared for loud screams in the theatre, and maybe a few nightmares at night. I literally felt my hair stand in certain scenes and the people on my right jumped out of their seats at least twice. Overall this is an excellent production with only 3 (or 4?) cast members. Definitely worth a watch if you feel like a night of horror.


Watch this show and I guarantee you won't be able to sleep for a week, without your teddy, or night light. Back to old school theatrics and dramatic tensions, the play at times had me jump out of my skin. It is quite immersive in this way but at no point does the play resort to gimics. It is an amazing experience to be so engrossed in a play that you feel so scared and frightened. It is story telling at its best.


I’ll be honest - my heart sank a little when I entered the auditorium and found myself surrounded by a school party; the boys in front of me were full of adolescent bravado and I resigned myself to an evening of rustling wrappers and glowing phones. 

I couldn't have been more wrong. It’s a testament to The Woman In Black’s power to chill that these same boys spent most of the production ducking lower and lower into their blazer collars and gripping their armrests as the suspense grew and grew.

This production, an adaptation of Susan Hill’s beautiful homage to the Victorian Gothic novel, proves that a play doesn't need elaborate sets or even a large cast to be effective. Our two characters (or is it three?) lead us on a frightening journey the climax of which remained with me long into the early hours of the night. I read somewhere that one director deliberately kept the air-conditioning of the theatre at an uncomfortably low setting to keep the audience on edge and it may have been my imagination but I felt sure there was a considerable snap in the air, especially when my seat was brushed by a silent figure in sinuous black robes…

This play has been a staple of London theatre for about 25 years now and I am confident that it will haunt the West End for many years to come. Outstanding.

Still one of my favourite plays in London, nothing compares to The Woman in Black. It had me on the edge of my seat and I think I might have screamed once or twice? I wasn’t a fan of the Daniel Radcliffe film but the play is a must-see! Go and watch it – you won’t regret it.

As a fan of the book and the movie I expected a lot from that play and was not disappointed at all. It was a lot more intelligent than I thought it will be first, but lot less scary... It was a excellent experience though. The theatre is very nice, and special effects were awesome ! I'm a huge Daniel Radcliffe fan but those actors were really great too ( except the Woman in Black who was not scary at all. Come on guys, it looks like nothing !! )

It was something different than I was expecting. The Woman in Black is not as scary as the marketing of the play suggests. Yes, you had several scenes that might have made you jump in your seat, but nothing close to what the reviews lead you to imagine.

However, they play is definitely enjoyable. The actors did a really good job with the limited resources that they have on stage and the occasional humor is quite entertaining. I would definitely recommend it as a play, but not really as a horror play.

Quite disappointing. I found myself wondering at times if this was a play or a somewhat enhanced recital of highlights from Susan Hill's book. So many opportunities for fun, spectacle and thrills just not bothered with. OK, you don't want a dog on stage, but could we not have a few barks, whines, clatter of paws on cobbles? And more imaginative lighting and sound to give us the marshes - dry smoke just doesn't cut it I'm afraid. And why just two actors (plus The Woman)? And the wrapping device, OK, not bad - but I wanted to get out there and give them some energetic ideas. Shame.

I loved this show. The suspense and chills it generates with such a small cast and minimal props is brilliant. It will make you jump and when you leave it is still on your mind expecting something creepy to happen! The sound of the rocking chair and chilling scream stays with you. I would see this again I enjoyed it that much. Much better than the film version in my opinon


Awesome little theatre just off Covent Garden. The play greatly relies on the strength of its cast, as it is pretty much two guys (well and a woman in black) with minimum props. The actors we saw I feel pulled this off brilliantly. The psychological terror  is pretty great in certain scenes, with many people in the audience jumping out from their seats at some points. This is what makes a play great, being able to suck the audience in-- even though they know they are sitting in a theatre, they are still hooked to the story. 

Of course I don't think its 'as scary' as the film-- but obviously a film can lean on special affects and post production editing a play cannot do.

A great performance!


A great ghost story. The play really does the film justice. Great acting and a limited set and props, which worked well. The chair still freaks me out.

Staff Writer

Still get chills 2 months on.

Got taken as a birthday surprise and it was brilliant. Having seen the film and watched Daniel Radcliffe slope about for 2 hours, I was looking forward to the real deal and wasn't disappointed.

They set the scene really well and the two actors were brilliant. The backdrop of the house was a bit naff but you don't notice too much as you're terrified throughout.

The actress who played the Woman in Black was petrifying and all the displaced screams and lingering in the shadows actually filled me with dread.

Definitely worth a trip, if you want to have a few sleepless nights

moderatorStaff Writer

I'm not quite sure what I was expecting, but The Woman in Black didn't live up to the hype for me. It wasn't particularly spooky and felt like a very old fashioned production to me. Feels like it belongs in a bygone era, so if that's what you hanker for, this could be the production for you. But if you're after an uplifting west end experience, i'd suggest steering clear of this one. It's a tad on the depressing side for a friday night. We left in need of cheering up and thankfully there's soo much to choose from nearby it doesn't take long to get back to high spirits

Staff Writer

The acting was superb and the concept is executed really well. I should imagine it was terrifying 20 years ago but now, the anticipation and expectations provide more fear than the actual reveals. However, it was a really fun production that I would see again.

Really enjoyed this show! The acting was great and I loved how atmospheric it was even with the use of simple effects and limited props. If you're a fan of traditional ghost stories you'll love it. Perfect entertainment for a crisp winters night!


First part is fairly dull and not scared. Second half jumpy more than scarey I would say. The acting was excellent. Film is much more frightening. A good piece of theatre though

The Woman in Black is a great bet for anyone who enjoys a traditional ghost story, with plenty of moments to make you jump. I took my mum, who hadn't seen it before, and she loved it. While it wasn't quite as scary the second time around for me (the production frequently uses the element of surprise), it was still a hugely enjoyable and atmospheric watch. The story starts off slowly, but gradually ratchets up the tension until the audience is on the edge of hysterics. Note that it is faithful to Susan Hill's book and not to the much-altered Hammer film version. Spooky fun.

if you are going to see this play then I suggest you get seats in the stalls so you can be scared that little bit more. This production brings back the classic ghost story that I am sure we have all been told. Great effects adding to a more eerie feel that will have you twitching in your chair........just don't eat a curry before hand ;-)

A fantastic play that I would thouroughly recommend to anyone. Great story with a few laughs and plenty of moments that make you jump! Acting was fantastic and the clever use of stage and props, combined with use of sound effects made it a very enjoyable experience. One of the best plays I've seen.

Overall a good play. Acting was great, and the script has enough laughs and scares to keep you interested. A bit slow to start though and you do have to immerse yourself in it to truly enjoy yourself.

One of the best plays I've seen. It's live storytelling with great use of the props and space, you get sucked right into the midst of it. It started out a little slow but picks up quick, keeps you laughing and jumping, and then you don't want it to end! Tip: try and go on the weekend to avoid screaming school kids!

An amazing performance! Performed to the best of its ability by the two actors. A great day out with the family, i would highly recommend this performance! I've seen the performance 2 times now, the second time was even scarier than the first! An excellent use of sound and light effects, the theatre really makes the performance come to life.

very well scripted and well played. The actors engulf you in a story that's gripping and dramatic.

This is not even for teenagers, it's for kids. Good acting and they do have some authentic scary moments but utterly poor flat story, nothing to take away

Went to see The Woman in Black today with two friends because we heard and read great reviews about was terrible!!!! so boring!!! do not listen to the reviews...People are paid to write these good things!!!! it was a big waste of time and not bother going!!!!!

Excellent. Not much else to say; it's chilling, emotional and overall a terrifying night out.

Well guys I thought the story was amazing considering it's a Gothic Horror for a LIVE audience, but unfortunately it was a little too narrated for me. I wanted to see the events happen more.

Caught the matinée performance on Tuesday the 31st of May. Fantastic performance from Antony Eden (a bit sexy) and Patrick Drury (accents were superb). I got far too into it and was rather unsettled the rest of the day, great show.

Disappointing. Great acting and effective staging but was expecting it to be a lot more scary and "spine-chilling" as other reviews had commented. I think we saw the actual 'woman in black' maybe 2 or 3 times throughout the entire performance!

What a massive let down!! my friend recommended this show to me as he said that it was the scariest thing he has seen. Little did I know he was 15 at the time he saw it. Great actors and slightly entertaining but if your looking to be scared and are not a 15 year old schoolgirl like most of those who sat beside and in front of me then go to the London Dungeons!!!!

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