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Published August 9th 2013
While the surrounding theatres loomed down on us, the titles of the shows they housed flashing through the darkness of a London night, the Fortune Theatre was quiet and unassuming. Once we arrived we were ushered into a very intimate and almost cosy space in comparison to other theatres I had visited in the West End.
I was acquainted with the recently released film version of The Woman in Black so I had certain expectations of the play which were happily dispelled. The initial difference that was glaringly at odds with the film was the humour of the play. This was a quality that I readily appreciated, as the film was very dark and brooding and the audience, if they were like me, yearned for something different, a different approach to the original novel.
The other striking difference was that the play was a two hander, unless you count the eerie presence of the woman in black as a character, whereas the film was populated with many characters. The fact that there are only the two actors playing numerous characters makes the play very unique and riveting and makes for humorous viewing.
The characters within the play are principally Arthur Kipps, elder version of this character, and the actor he approaches to help him tell his haunting story. The young actor helps him tell his tale through acting and the story unfolds from then on. The humour is created through the elder Arthur Kipps interpretation of the characters he met when living the tale he retells on the stage. The young actor plays his younger version of Arthur Kipps.
The fact that the theatre is so small and intimate helps create an eerie atmosphere. I was particularly unnerved when the woman in black swept down through the audience unexpectedly. The haunted house itself, Eel Marsh House, is silhouetted against the back of the stage. The audience is constantly aware of its presence making it almost another character, a malevolent and eerie character.
There is never any obvious gore or blood, but the audience is kept tense and anxious because of the staging and the acting. Well done to Crawford Logan and Tim Delap for their believable and captivating acting.