27 September 2012

The Woman in Black Theatre Review

Pete's sister very kindly bought us tickets to see The Woman in Black on stage in London, so as part of my visit to England we planned a trip to London for a few days. If you'd like to see what I got up to in London, you can have a look here.

The play was in the Fortune Theatre in Covent Garden, where it has been showing since 1989. The theatre itself is lovely- it has lovely decoration and is relatively small, which adds to the claustrophobic and unnerving atmosphere of the play.

The play is similar to the book in that former solicitor Arthur Kipps recounts his terrifying encounters with the 'woman in black' who haunts the town of Crythin Gifford in northern England. This version, however, adds the dimension of 'a play within a play', when a young actor helps Kipps tell his story by acting it out together.
The play is actually quite funny to begin with, which threw me- I was fully expecting to be scared from the get-go. However, I found this to be much more effective as it lulls you into a false sense of security before the horror actually begins.

With only two actors on stage, it seemed that the play would be quite difficult to make work, especially in terms of scaring the audience. However, with excellent use of props, lighting and sound effects, it is genuinely terrifying and jumpy- especially with the addition of some unexpected surprises, which I won't divulge here lest I spoil the play.
As a side note, the safety curtain of the theatre, which was lowered during the interval, is lovely!

I really enjoyed the play and actually found it better than the book- it was much more engaging. That said, I would recommend the book as well.
After watching the play, we decided to watch the film version starring Daniel Radcliffe. Unfortunately, I found this to be a very poor adaptation. It is totally different to the book and play, changing huge chunks of the story. It also seems to try and throw in as many jumps as possible, without any attempt to build atmosphere like the play does.

Overall, I would definitely recommend the play to anybody who wants a night at the theatre. It's funny and scary and really enjoyable, with a few really good twists and jumps.

Have you seen The Woman in Black on stage? What did you think of it?

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