Review: The Woman In Black

Photos by Mark Douet.

Over 33 years Susan Hill’s The Woman In Black played over 13,000 performances in the West End and has been seen by over 7-million people in the UK. Finally, as part of its nationwide tour, it has now made its way to Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre.

Adapted by Stephen Mallatratt, The Woman In Black tells the story of a lawyer obsessed with a curse that he believes has been cast over his family by the spectre of a ‘Woman in Black’. He engages a young actor to help him tell his story and exorcise the fear that grips his soul. It begins innocently enough, but as they delve further into his darkest memories the borders between make-believe and reality begin to blur and the flesh begins to creep.

Belgrade Theatre, The Woman In Black

The spooky setting for the second act is a house surrounded by marshes in a remote village in the North of England, where Kipps sifts through documents belonging to the late Mrs Alice Drablow, the owner of Eel Marsh House.

Walsall-born Malcolm James returns to The Woman in Black having first played Arthur ‘Kipps’ on a UK Tour and then at the Fortune Theatre. He is more than ably supported in this two-man show by Mark Hawkins who, together, bring this classic story to spine-tingling life.

Belgrade Theatre, The Woman In Black

A newcomer to The Woman In Black (despite its longevity), I felt it was a bit slow to get going and yet, there was always a sense of the creeping tension and an anticipation that the second half would have plenty in store!

And that it did! From blood curdling screams to shadowy figures, the clever staging of this show proved that edge-of-the-seat suspense is just as achievable in a live production as it is on the big screen. (Something I had been previously less convinced about.)

It’s a small cast and crew – headed up by creative team of director Robin Herford, designer Michael Holt and lighting by Kevin Sleep – but they deliver a mighty couple of hours of theatre.

Belgrade Theatre, The Woman In Black

Perhaps not one for those of a nervous disposition(!), but definitely otherwise worth a ticket. Just be brave and try and resist watching the second half from behind your hands (as my friend did) so as not to miss it!

The Woman In Black plays at The Belgrade until Saturday, May 4th. Tickets start from £18 and can be purchased here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *