With Halloween upon us, the time for spooky stories and performances is now! The Woman in Black is one such production, and it’s enjoyed a long run of success as a thrilling horror story for almost 3 decades. The current production of The Woman in Black at the West End’s Fortune Theatre is one for the ages and makes for a fantastically terrifying show without resorting to blood and gore for cheap shock value.
Richard Hope currently stars as Arthur Kipps, a recently widowed lawyer who has been sent to settle an affair in a remote village while still mourning the loss of his wife. Hope has plenty of experience on both the stage and on TV, and he takes control of this role in a phenomenal way. Hope plays Kipps in a smooth, dark fashion, and quickly lets us know we are witnessing a classic ghost story – but one with many twists and unique differences that sets it apart from others.
Mark Hawkins plays The Actor, who is one of the few other characters in the story, and he masterfully performs the role with grace. The chemistry between Hope and Hawkins is evident from the beginning, with the actors playing off each other in a way that holds the audience captive from the start. As the two begin to act their story within a story, supernatural disturbances begin to manifest across the stage, and the pair of men do an excellent job of showing unrest and downright horror.
The stage itself is a thing of beauty, insofar as one can be for a production of terror. Audience members will feel like they are secretively looking into an empty room rather than part of an actual audience. Credit must be given to sound designer Gareth Owens, who keeps the dark, gloomy, and scary mood of the story consistent throughout the play with hauntingly beautiful noises. The balance is just perfect and adds to the tension that must exist in a quality tale such as this.
The story flows nicely throughout the entirety of the play, and the mood in the room is always perfect for the situation at hand. For such a basic, minimal play, there is a lot of emotion and wonder that can be drawn from the audience. This isn’t a story that’s going to make you jump with surprises, instead, it is a psychological thriller that might have you coming up with spooky thoughts days after taking it in.
The Woman in Black has been playing at the Fortune Theatre for almost 30 years now, and in that time the production has only become more and more haunting. Combine the performances of Hope and Hawkins with the history of the theatre, and you have a chilling masterpiece that just feels like it’s supposed to be performed here. If you haven’t seen it yet, now is a perfect time, with Halloween right around the corner and two fantastic actors at the helm of the production.