The Woman in Black
Susan Hill, adapted by Stephen Mallatratt
PW Productions Ltd
Disembodied and bloodcurdling screams, strange banging and crashing sounds and an assault on the human spirit; and that was just the reaction in the audience as the country’s most enduring spine chiller hit Theatr Clwyd.
Demonstrating the best in theatre with two superb acting performances, clever use of lighting and a brilliantly versatile stage set, The Woman in Black succeeds so well due to a combination of all these factors alongside the imagination of the audience. It is this chemistry that has led to the enduring success of a production that shows no signs of losing its impact.
David Acton and Matthew Spencer combine brilliantly as Arthur Kipps and The Actor respectively as they slowly draw the viewer into the hellish train of events. However, the true genius behind the production is playwright Stephen Mallatratt who had the original vision of setting the Susan Hill novel in an empty theatre where the actor helps Kipps to relate his story. This ensures that the cast is kept to a minimum as The Actor plays Kipps who, in turn, is encouraged to play the other roles.
Therefore, we find ourselves following Kipps on his journey north on legal duty, meeting a range of disturbed characters and experiencing the terror of the secluded old house, only reachable at low tide. However, it is the combination of lighting, sound effects and the almost unbearable tension created by Acton and Spencer that has the audience on the edge of, and sometimes jumping out of, their seats.
This is an outstanding production that works on many levels: storyline, script, acting, design and technical; it is a truly immersive, if terrifying experience. However, the true power of the evening is found in the ability of the audience to become engrossed, which ensures the auditorium crackles with tension throughout. An evening of magnificent malevolence and still the benchmark in spine-chilling.
Reviewer: Dave Jennings