The Woman in Black Spooked StokeCultural Reporter Emma reviews The Woman in Black at The Regent Theatre.
A two-man play within a play... that’s right! Two plays, all on one stage and performed by two men only.
As somebody who hadn’t seen the theatre production before, and barely knew about the story other than the film adaptation, I was incredibly surprised by The Woman in Black.
The Woman in Black is a very well known story, whether seen in the 2012 Daniel Radcliffe film or the theatre production itself, it’s been around since it was first written by Susan Hill in 1983.
David Acton, the man who plays Arthur Kipps, begins as a shaky old man who knows nothing of acting, and we as the audience play the role of empty chairs in that very theatre. The Actor, played by Matthew Spencer, then appears to offer him his acting expertise on how to perform this gruesome story. This poor, troubled man just wants to tell his tale and this actor wants to teach him how to perform it.
And here we begin the story. Arthur Kipps acting as every other character, and The Actor taking on the role of Arthur Kipps himself. We drift in-between the two different worlds, from the two men attempting to share a story, to the story itself, a progression of horror that steadily seeps into the two men’s lives in the present day setting.
The Woman in Black is an intricate story and told by these two actors with so few props, just as if they were performing 'way back when', to a crowd of chairs in practice.
The lighting crew had the set 'down to a T', the shocks and sounds lining up perfectly to create a scream-inducing scare. Even more incredible was the way the lighting made the stage transition between different scenes, with minimum fuss and very little set change.
One irritation I have to mention, was the audience reactions when the recordings would become too loud or screams would play. These left the audience talking for half a second afterwards, and unfortunately we were left missing vital dialogue while the crowd calmed down. I will say this though, a lot of the audience had the same problem and began shushing when the screams were over, just to enjoy the show a little more in silence.
Aside from this, I have nothing but praise for both the performance and the stage. The thin curtain, lit up to reveal several rooms behind it and even a staircase, was incredibly well done. I adored the way the child’s bedroom was presented and the rocking of the chair, which caused so much anxiety from the audience. Jumps we expected to get didn’t happen, and surprised us at random moments when you didn’t expect a jump scare. This show really was incredible.
The Woman in Black is a story not to be missed, and to see it performed on stage is certainly an adventure. It’s a completely different atmosphere to be sat in one place - watching something you can’t pause or walk away from is an entirely different level of fear.
Appetite Cultural Reporter
The Appetite Cultural Reporter Team is a roving group of local writers, photographers and bloggers who are passionate about the arts in Stoke-on-Trent. Cultural Reporters discover and promote exciting stuff happening locally and regionally through reviews, blogs, vlogs, photography, back stage interviews and more. From theatre to circus to spoken word, they get to the heart of the action and bring it to you. Got an event coming up you’d like one of the team to review? Contact us at email@example.com