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||Contact:|
|Transport:||Covent Garden tube|
Average User Rating
3.8 / 5
- 5 star:16
- 4 star:11
- 3 star:2
- 2 star:5
- 1 star:4
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.
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
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.
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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 it..it 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 money...do not bother going!!!!!
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!!!!