She still scares – even for the seventh time
SECONDS out, round 7: my biennial reunion with the West End’s most famous ghost was everything I expected it to be: a masterpiece of execution as exhilarating as any previous performance I have witnessed.
This was indeed the seventh time I have enjoyed this brilliantly-crafted scarefest, along with the amusing reactions of substantial sections of the audience.
This production at the Everyman was no exception, thanks to the legions of unsuspecting students who raised the biggest scream of them all.
It’s amazing what effect the door to the abandoned upstairs room can have on anyone caught off guard.
Yet there were moments when you could have literally heard a pin drop, even if this was merely a lull before the proverbial storm. There can be no doubt: The Woman in Black is a live theatrical experience like no other.
For much of the time, a brooding sense of terror hangs menacingly in the air, and you may find your eyes darting in all directions, wondering where that black spectre will appear next.
The creepy atmosphere, the suffocating sea mist, the sinister rocking chair, that single torchlight scything through the darkness and other icons to match were all present and chillingly correct again, and ready to unsettle even the most seasoned spectator.
After 14 years, there are plenty of incidents which set my pulse racing in anticipation, and I still suffer bouts of gooseflesh.
I am also left with a profound sense of admiration for the minimal cast who do so much with so little.
In live theatre, less is very often more, and rarely has this adage proved more apt. It has been a thrill to observe many fine actors playing the two leading roles, and carrying the flag tonight were Robert Goodale (solicitor Arthur Kipps) and Daniel Easton (the hired actor) who delivered another masterclass in skilled characterisation and cut-glass diction, although Robert occasionally stumbled over his lines.
Some things never change, though; director Robin Herford is still at the helm, fashioning a production that has justifiably attracted capacity audiences who, it seems, cannot get enough of this remarkable piece of English theatre. The rousing ovation at the end said it all.
Even the wasted lady garnered her own massive cheer. See you in two years’ time, my dear.
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