She still scares – even for the sev­enth time

Gloucestershire Echo - - NEWS - gloslive­[email protected]­plc.com Si­mon LEWIS

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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