Daniel Easton and Robert Goodale are the cast members of The Woman In Black (Photo: Fortune Theatre/ Tristram Kenton)
Daniel Easton and Robert Goodale are the cast members of The Woman In Black (Photo: Fortune Theatre/ Tristram Kenton)

Be afraid, be very afraid, of the Woman in Black

The horror genre is one that’s always fascinated me from a young age.

I was terrified by the Hammer Horror films, resulting in regular nightmares, as a result of too many views of Dracula: Prince of Darkness and The Devil Rides Out, but no matter how frightening I found them, I always came back for more, watching the video tapes again and again.

As I got older, I moved on to other forms of horror, such as the Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween movies, and in 1989, The Woman In Black. Based on Susan Hill’s 1983 novel, it absolutely terrified me as this was a horror without an obvious villain, like Freddy Kruger, Dracula or Satan.

In The Woman In Black, solicitor Arthur Kipps travels to the funeral of Alice Drablow, a reclusive widow. And that’s where the scares begin. The story was filmed again in 2012, with Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe in the lead role, which is the version I was most familiar with prior to watching this stage adaptation at the King’s Theatre in Glasgow.

What most surprised me was, on opening the programme, that this stage adaptation is a two-hander. Adapted by the late Stephen Malatratt, this interpretation strips back the story to its bare bones and rebuilds it, carefully and cleverly. Here, we open with Kipps (Robert Goodale) trying to perform a work, to an actor (Daniel Easton). Kipps is trying to tell a tale of personal experience, and having written down his story, needs the actor to help him bring it to life.

Goodale brings a clever edge to his performance, beginning as an awkward man, almost mumbling his way through the work, which ceases as he converses with Easton. Throughout the play, we watch as Kipps and the actor swap parts, with the actor portraying the majority of Kipps’ story, and the other man playing the other parts in the tale.

Daniel Easton (right) and Robert Goodale are the cast members of The Woman In Black (Photo: Fortune Theatre/ Tristram Kenton)

The opening is light-hearted as we get to grips with the characters and understand the scenario of the play before us, often breaking the fourth wall as we are allowed to laugh at the almost absurdity of the set-up.

But the laughs don’t last long. Bit by bit, events take a darker turn, as Kipps relates the events of the creepy old house – a horror trope, which has become one for a reason – as he finds a locked door. When it creaks open one night, he finds a moving rocking chair with no one in it, and a perfectly made child’s bedroom.

The titular woman in black puts in various appearances throughout the performance, and her appearances are accented by some clever use of sound and lighting, making for a production that gets darker and darker with every passing scene.

This production has earned rave reviews over the years, and it’s obvious just why it has an enduring appeal. It has a confident, charismatic cast, an intelligent script, and is great theatre as a result. Absolutely unmissable.

During the curtaincall, ensure you stay to the end – and watch behind the leading men…

The Woman in Black is at Glasgow’s King’s Theatre until Saturday, 22 February, with performances each day at 7.30pm, with matinees at 2.30pm on Thursday and Saturday.

For for further information or to book tickets, visit HERE.