Woman in Black is spookily superb

The Woman In Black
The Woman In Black

i still remember the chills that ran down my spine when I read The Woman in Black as part of a school GCSE project.

And to this day the Susan Hill novel remains one of my favourite books that I tentatively get out of the cupboard every few years to re-read when I’m feeling brave.

So when the opportunity to watch the stage production at the stunning Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield came up I jumped at the chance.

Adapted by Stephen Mallatratt the theatre production is now celebrating its 23rd year in the West End, making it one of the longest running productions in history.

The story follows a terrified lawyer obsessed with a curse that he believes has been cast over him and his family by the spectre of a ‘Woman in Black’.

The theatre production differs from the book in that Arthur Kipps, the lawyer, enlists the help of a young overly enthusiastic actor to help him tell his terrifying story and finally shake the dreaded curse that haunts him.

As part of this process Mr Kipps, played by Julian Forsyth, takes on the role of the other characters he meets along his journey.

In the first act I struggled to get into the story a little as every time I found myself becoming gripped by the spooky tale, the actor, played by Antony Ededn, would jump in and give stage directions and such like reminding the audience that this was simply a rehearsed false performance rather than a true account.

However in act two the references to the ‘acting’ were minimal and I quickly became absorbed into the story.

The appearances of the woman in black were actually terrifying and left me with goose bumps and I’m embarrassed to admit shouting out in shock on one occasion.

I was overwhelmed by the acting skills of both Julian Forsyth and Antony Ededn who had single-handedly brought this story to life so much so that I hardly slept a wink that night.

Special mention must go to Julian Forsyth who took on the part of several characters seamlessly.

For those who have not seen the theatre production I can certainly recommend it and whilst the book still has the edge for me it definitely lived up to the hype and I now understand why the production has been running for so long.

For more information about upcoming shows at the Lyceum visit www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk

Reviewed by Kate Mason.