The Woman in Black at the Kings Theatre, Southsea REVIEW: 'The fear generated is very real'

I’d heard the hype but had not read the book and had seen neither the film nor the stage-play.

Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 8:26 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 8:26 am
Daniel Easton and Robert Goodale in The Woman In Black. Picture by Tristram Kenton

The Woman in Black has been described as terrifying. I was sceptical; I understand how a film can terrify and nothing terrifies more than your own imagination – but actors on a stage?

Convinced was I not.

I am now fully prepared to eat those words.

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At the Kings this week is the touring-version of the stage-play – a two-hander (well, three, but more of that later) which both terrifies and entertains.

Junior solicitor, Arthur Kipps, is sent to a stark, lonely and – of course! – haunted house to deal with the affairs of the late owner. At her funeral he sees a woman, pale, drawn and dressed in black, about whom nobody in the town will talk. Eventually he finds letters explaining her story – and ultimately suffers the consequences.

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The Woman in Black returns to terrify audiences at the Kings Theatre, Southsea

The principal cast of two – Daniel Easton and Robert Goodale – are excellent storytellers and Easton’s delivery of the beautiful descriptive passages causes shivers of pleasure rather than fear. The fear, when it comes, is underlined by the often-unseen but ever-present title character. Rarely seen in full light, she’s just a shadow, a breath, a movement in the dark – and she terrifies.

The fear generated is very real. Several times the audience levitated in unison and – I’m very pleased to report – at one point a poor woman in the stalls screamed long and loud.

The joy, of course, is that the terror is inevitably followed by self-conscious giggles.

An excellent evening and here for the week.

Until Saturday