The Woman In Black Theatre Review

Topics: Fear, Theatre, Performance Pages: 5 (2014 words) Published: September 24, 2013
The Woman in Black Theatre Review

On Tuesday the 15th of August 2013, I set out with my family to an evening performance of the west end renowned ‘The Woman in Black’ at the Fortune Theatre. Upon entering the theatre I noticed how intimate the space was which I feel had a huge effect on the audience as the play went on, it meant that we were closer to the action therefore completely emerging us into the story. As the plot grew darker and more tense the small theatre added to the fear we all felt by making us feel claustrophobic and restricted, as if we couldn’t get away. We watched Stephen Mallatratt’s adaptation of Susan Hills acclaimed novel therefore the show we watched was a story within a story, I was skeptical about this as I felt the continuous interruptions of the tale of Arthur Kipps disturbed the story and made it harder for the audience to immerse themselves in it. However this technique made us feel as if the back story was true and as if the production we were watching itself was produced for the same reason stated in the play, which made it all the more terrifying. It also provided grounds for the awfully cliché ending, which although it was heavily anticipated since the first sighting of ‘the woman in black’ in the funeral scene, still proved to be highly effective as we all left the theatre desperately clutching onto one another. As the story proceeded the interruptions became less and less, which the director, Robin Hereford, chose wisely as when the story was building up the breaks made the audience impatient to find out what would happen next and kept us on our toes, whereas in the fast paced second act there were fewer interruptions which meant we were thrown head first into the action. The breaks also proved to be quite provoking to the audience’s emotions as the reactions of Arthur Kipps and the actor increased our own fears and anticipations. One criticism that was echoed through almost all of my family members was the slow beginning and the arduous comedy throughout majority of the first act, although it was effective in building up the story, I found it quite boring and repetitive and did not enjoy that aspect of the play. The director used this technique however to strip away any mental preparation or expectations the audience had and bring their guards down to insure a riveting experience. Aside from the mysteriously unnamed woman in black, the whole production only featured two actors which meant that the audience could really engage with their characters which were each delivered very convincingly. Ken Drury who played Arthur Kipps performed his well rounded character with conviction, he performed particularly well during his role as the narrator, his fast, loud and panicked voice created tension and brought the audience up to their height of terror and his acting as Arthur Kipps provided an endearing character for the audience to connect with. Adam Best who played the actor was confident and loud which showed us the relationship between the two men well, although there was no perceptible change of Adam Best when switching between his two roles he evoked tension and panic in the audience at all moments of distress. The continuous narrative change and the many multi roles used created a very difficult narrative to grasp therefore the director’s choices of lighting change proved to be simple yet innovative.

For the novel scenes a sepia gel was used perhaps to represent the dated story and Arthur Kipps himself and in scenes from the adaptations a bright white gel was used, this clearly distinguished between the two coinciding plots which meant there was no room for misunderstanding and all focus could be devoted to the story. Although the lighting here was efficacious and used naturalistically, lighting was also used in surreal ways throughout the play, and also to represent the weather for realism, for instance the blue icy light and dry ice used for the funeral scene, which I think...
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