The Woman in Black, Richmond Theatre, January 2010

This hugely successful ghost story has been running at the Fortune Theatre in London’s West End for twenty years, and here we had the touring cast with Peter Bramhill as the young actor and Robert Demeger as Arthur Kipps. After Richmond it goes all over the United Kingdom — the various theatres are listed at the end.

The original story by Susan Hill is about a young lawyer named Arthur Kipps who leaves London for a few days to attend the funeral of an old lady client and examine the paperwork in her isolated house. A woman in black, with a wasted face, appears at the funeral, and reappears in the isolated house. Local legend holds that whenever she is seen a child dies. When Arthur returns to London he marries and has a child of his own, but disaster awaits when the woman in black reappears.

The play, adapted from the novel by Stephen Mallatratt, has Arthur Kipps as an older man employing a young actor to help him tell the story, in order to release him from its terrifying memory. The scenes in the isolated house are theatrically embellished with suitable sound effects, and many of the audience find it gratifyingly scary. The funeral is cut from the play, and the whole thing is a very clever recital of events from the past, starting with the older man reciting Arthur’s history in a quiet and dull monotone. One or two of the audience around me spoke out to complain they couldn’t hear him well, but that is precisely the point. This is why he needs a young actor to help him flesh it all out and exorcise the ghosts of the past, and I thought Peter Bramhill and Robert Demeger both played their parts extremely well.

As to the appearance of ghosts and strange noises, I have made a suggestion in a separate post.

18–23 January, SALFORD QUAYS The Lowry; 25–30 January, NEWCASTLE Theatre Royal; 1 – 6  February, LEICESTER Curve; 8 – 13 February, WOKING New Victoria Theatre; 16–20 February, EDINBURGH King’s Theatre; 22–27 February, SHEFFIELD Lyceum Theatre; 1 – 6   March, CAMBRIDGE Arts Theatre; 8 – 13 March, DARLINGTON Civic Theatre; 18–20 March, BLACKPOOL Grand Theatre; 22–27 March, SWINDON Wyvern Theatre; 29 – 3 April, SWANSEA Grand Theatre; 5 – 10 April, NORTHAMPTON Royal; 12–17 April, HASTINGS White Rock Theatre; 19–24 April, BRIGHTON Theatre Royal; 26 Apr – 1 May, BELFAST Grand Opera House; 4 – 8  May, NOTTINGHAM Theatre Royal; 10–15 May, CHELTENHAM Everyman; 31 May – 5 June, LIVERPOOL Everyman; 7 – 12 June, GLASGOW Theatre Royal; 14–19 June, CARDIFF New Theatre; 21–26 June, NORWICH Theatre Royal; 28 June – 3 July, SOUTHEND Palace Theatre

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