Tuesday, 18 December 2018

The Woman in Black

With the nights drawing in and the weather turning autumnal, the Theatre Royal brought us a spooky old-fashioned ghost story, crafted from the simple, classic elements of sound, smoke and darkness, not forgetting the odd surprise

The Woman in Black
Theatre Royal, Windsor
Monday, October 3

With the nights drawing in and the weather turning autumnal, the Theatre Royal brought us a spooky old-fashioned ghost story, crafted from the simple, classic elements of sound, smoke and darkness, not forgetting the odd surprise. To a jumpy and jittery audience on a Monday night, these were all the ingredients needed to bring us a smorgasbord of scares.

A solicitor, Arthur Kipps, has been dispatched to a remote house in a distant rural idyll to deal with the mountains of paperwork belonging to the recently departed Alice Drablow. Alice had lived in a large and ominous-looking house, cut off, for all but a couple of hours of the day, from the rest of civilisation by a causeway. As we discover, after he has gone through the papers night after night in the lonely gloom, Kipps has a strange story to tell, and he has a desperate need to rid himself of this story, to share it and to warn others. As the tale unfurls, we learn of a ghostly, ghastly woman dressed all in black with a wasted face...

This two-hander was acted out by the talented David Acton and Matthew Spencer, who worked together harmoniously as many different characters in different environments throughout. There were some fantastic scenes where they created the perfect illusion of travel, jolting along in sync both by train and by pony and trap, alongside other examples such as interacting with an imaginary dog. The scenery was both elaborate and stark, with a locked door hiding a heart-breaking secret. The multi-tasking stage and its effects brought us offices, a church, the different rooms of the house and more, with consummate ease. There were definitely people jumping out of their skins as the cast conjured up myriad tense scenes where you wondered what was going to happen next. This contained a long, dark night of the psyche. Not one for the faint-hearted.

Until Saturday.

Review by Natalie Aldred

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