Now the second longest running play in west end history, having played in London for 28 years, The Woman in Black embarks on its latest UK tour.
Before attending the show I had read previous reviews and heard the hype that the show is terrifying and will leave you scared of the dark, I had my doubts. What can 2 actors and a few special effects really do? They can't scare you that much, can they?
The answer is YES they can! Having spent most of last night unable to sleep from being scared the woman in black would appear at any moment I can safely say this show is the scariest I have ever seen.
The script has been written superbly to include a play within a play. This could be confusing to the audience if it wasnt for Kevin Sleep and his excellent lighting design. It is clear from the lighting which part of the production you are in and the lighting also adds brilliantly to the atmosphere of the entire evening.
To summarise the plot would ruin some of the atmosphere. I personally have never seen the film or read the book although I am assured from others that have that the play is slightly different. I found my lack of prior knowledge as to the shows storyline aided the spookyness of the evening and meant the sudden plot twists thorughout had the desired effect of surprise!
Due to being more scared than I have ever been in a theatre I would not rush to see the show again this week however, if you offered me tickets for a later date I would accept. If you strip away the scares the show is just a piece of playwriting genius.
It would be very tempting to throw a large cast and lots of props at this show to try and make it scary however the small cast and minimal set, that keeps opening up different sections throughout the evening, are one of the reasons it is so good! It was said that the show could have been named '101 uses for a wicker basket' as this became the most important prop on the stage for most of the night. The audience get to use their imaginations, and it is this imagination that leads to the show being so scary. It is not the appearance of the woman in black that is scary but mostly the thought of it as she actually only appears a handful of times throughout the show.
If you asked me last night how I felt about this show I would have said terrified, I never want to see it again. Ask me now and the answer is very different. Yes the show is scary, it's supposed to be, but once you get over that fear and think about it the show is brilliant and one of the best ever written. Everyone in the theatre witnessed a marvel of theatre as the effects and suspense were mostly achieved purely from the superb acting. David Acton and Matthew Spencer must be applauded as two of the finest actors to be currently working in theatre for their performances last night. After the first few miuntes I was hooked on their every word. The light comedy at the start lulls you into a false sense of security before the scares really start.
If you are easily scared then this probably is'nt the production for you but if not get yourself down to the theatre for the best play you will ever see. Just make sure your lights are working at home!
Reviewed by Daniel Keen at the Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent.
This production of The Woman in Black is currently touring the UK until 27th May 2017 and can also be seen at the Fortune Theatre, London. For further information visit the shows website: www.thewomaninblack.com