woman in black kipps and actor

Robert Goodale as Arthur Kipps and Antony Eden as The Actor. Pictures: Tristram Kenton

The Woman in Black

Malvern Theatres


Not just your average night in Malvern, as theatre goers removed their facemasks and prepared for an edge of the seat performance of Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black, the West End’s second longest running play celebrating 30 years.

Having watched the film I thought I was well prepared for some jumps and trickery but as the tension on stage increased I didn’t expect shivers up and down my spine, audience members to scream out loud and viewers to physically jump in their seats clutching their chests as hearts beat faster and nervous laughter spread across the rows.

Arthur Kipps (Robert Goodale), a lawyer obsessed with a curse upon his family entrusts the help of an actor (Anthony Eden) to tell his story in the hope that he can rid himself of his terrible nightmares and eventually sleep soundly.

Thankfully the actor cuts Arthur’s manuscript down from five hours of dialogue and with some encouragement tries to project some Olivier into his performance.

The first part of the tale begins when Kipps learns of the death of Mrs Drablow, a reclusive widow who resided in a remote house cut off from the tide at Crythin Gifford and Kipps travels by train up to the North East to the funeral to sort through bundles of private papers and tie up any loose ends.

the actor

Antony Eden as The Actor with a part like no other . . . in this world

Travelling by pony and trap across the causeway, a villager, Keckwick, a man of few words, encourages Kipps not to stay the night and promises to return to Eel Marsh House before the tide cuts him off for the night.

Who is the woman in black who keeps appearing? Why is a door in the house locked? Were the tumultuous sounds of a young child drowning real? The end of the first act leaves the audience feeling unnerved and in need of a stiff drink from the bar with hopefully no taps on the shoulder or icy breath on the back of their necks.

In the second act, tensions rise as Kipps returns to Eel Marsh House with the only companion willing to accompany him across the marshes being Spider, a local’s faithful dog. Kipps unfolds the truth behind what lays behind the locked door and correspondence unravels the drowning of Mrs Drablow’s nephew and the troubled relationship with sister Jennet, who was driven mad by grief eventually succumbing to a terrible wasting disease.

The terrifying horror doesn’t end there with now the actor’s life embroiled in the curse with devastating consequences and a very unhappy ending. Beware of The Woman in Black, definitely not for the faint hearted.

Walking across the dark Malvern park back to my car last night, certainly made me look over my shoulder more than once and look twice at a woman’s face as she stood under a tree, her face illuminated by her mobile phone. I locked my car door pretty quickly after checking my mirrors and made sure I had no extra passengers in the back seats, just in case.

PW Productions presents the UK tour of Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black at Malvern Theatres until Saturdayl 14 August.Tickets are available from the Box Office on 01684 892277 or online at malvern-theatres.co.uk.

Emma Trimble


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