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Critical essay on the theatre visit to see 'The Woman In Black'

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Introduction

Critical essay on the theatre visit to see 'The Woman In Black'- November 2001 The play 'The Woman in Black' was written in 1987 by Stephen Mallatratt and is set in the inter-war period in England. The set, costume and colours used were all from this period all reflected this period. The play is based on the novel written by Susan Hill and has been showing at the Fortune Theatre for over twelve years. The stage was split into three in order to make the most of the limited space provided. A gauze sheet that allowed the set behind the gauze to be hidden unless a light was on the set separated each section of the stage. The set was also able to change from one location to another with the removal of a sheet or changing the position of a basket. The basket was the focal point of the set, and showed clearly where the play was located in each scene. It changed from being a case for papers, to a table, from a bed to a horse carriage and from an altar to a train seat. The different uses of the basket were effective and focused the audience to the location of the scene. ...read more.

Middle

The particular unexpected nature of the train moving through the tunnel was a way of showing the audience that this journey north would not be a good thing. The play increased its tension at the funeral. The appearance of 'The Woman in Black', walking through the auditorium, amongst the audience then onto the stage, caused the whole auditorium to feel cold and uninviting. The change in tempo from the fast train to the slow pace of the haunting appearance of the ghost built the tension due to the inability to predict the play due to the constant change in tempo. Other effects that built the tension were the repetitive use of the sound effects such as the sound of the horse and carriage crossing the gorse-way and drowning. This repetitive use of the sound effects caused the audience to be unable to tell whether the sound of the horse and carriage was that of safety or that or danger. It was a horse and carriage that save Mr. Kipps each time but also the ghostly appearance of the horse and carriage that haunted him. The uncertainty of the outcome of the horse and carriage was a very powerful tool that was used and built the tension to a dramatic climax successfully. ...read more.

Conclusion

The audience screamed, gasped and sunk back into their seats with fear. The anger in the woman's face and the sound of the violent rocking chair has remained in my mind, so therefore I feel that it is the strongest moment. In contrast to this dramatic and tormenting scene, I do not feel that there is a particular weak moment in the play that stood out in my mind. The superb acting and simple but effective sound effects eventuated with a dramatic and very successful performance that is not easy to fault. The performance worked so well that I left the theatre having been scared in a way that I have never been scared before. No film or play previous to this performance has left me with a permanent image, but this performance of 'The Woman in Black' left me with the image of the face of the woman in any dark area. The impact of the play on the audience that evening was immense and unlike anything that I have experienced before, the simplicity of the play alongside superb acting caused this reaction to the play. It is an amazing play and it is possible to see why it has been so success for thirteen years and is likely to continue in the same way for many years to come. ...read more.

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