Live performance theatre review Unit 3: The Woman in Black

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Susan Keats  Candidate number: 7865         centre number: 22066    Word count: 1,406

Live performance theatre review Unit 3: The Woman in Black

On Friday 9th March 2012 I attended a live performance of one of the West Ends longest running plays; The Woman in Black written by Susan Hill and adapted by Stephen Mallarat at The fortune theatre. The play proved to be a truly spine chilling experience and captured its audience from the start by using various (literary techniques) performance aspects such as sound, lighting, costume and props. Set in 1920’s England focussed around number of different venues, one of them being an empty Victorian theatre to begin with, and the former market town of Crythin Gifford. However the action centres on the Eel Marsh House; an old building in the middle of a marsh island which is also the previous residence of Mrs Drablow. It comprises of only two characters an elderly Arthur Kipps ‘whose story has to be told’, and a young actor who performs the story of the once junior solicitor. The director combines tone and atmosphere along with certain effective cinematic qualities of a horror/thriller film to achieve the plays chilling effect.

The small stage and intimate quality of The Fortune Theatre made for the perfect venue and intensified the overall experience for the audience because we felt a part of the action, every creek of the floorboards; every daunting footstep was audible and added to the play’s terrifying demeanour. The action cleverly takes place in the very theatre in which we are sitting, and opens with a solicitor Arthur Kipps reading from a diary, then enters a young actor who criticizes his feeble delivery, Arthur Kipps goes on to seek the young actors opinion on how best to voice his experience of the events of 30 years prior, and so they commence to perform the terrifying tale.

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The director utilises an extremely minimalistic set, with the props taking on numerous uses, a large wicker props basket makes for a desk, train carriage, a horse and cart and a bed; Adding to the minimalistic theme established a simple changing of coats denotes a new character, and despite its simplicity it couldn’t have been more effective. The audience are transported to the past as the young actor plays Arthur Kipps whilst Kipps himself narrates as well as taking on the role of all the people he came across during his fateful journey to the bleak North East of England. ...

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