It is the second longest-running play in the West End, having sent chills down the spines of audience members for 25 years.
But from tomorrow and for one week only, The Woman in Black will stalk the stalls of The Kings Theatre as part of a national tour to coincide with the show’s silver anniversary.
Stephen Mallatratt’s adaptation of Susan Hill’s novel tells the story of Arthur Kipps, a lawyer who believes his family has been cursed by the spectre of a woman in black.
He engages a young actor to help him tell his story and exorcise his fear. But as they reach into his darkest memories, the hauntings begin.
The Woman In Black was first performed at the Theatre-By-The-Sea in Scarborough in 1987 to rave reviews. Robin Herford directed and commisioned that performance, and 28 years later he is at the helm of the tour.
‘I was at the second year of my tenure as Artistic Director and I hadn’t spent all of my grant so I thought I would put on a ghost story for adults at Christmas – a cut-price stocking filler really,’ says Robin.
Audiences don’t know where the scares are coming from next.Robin Herford, director of The Woman In Black
‘I told Stephen [Mallatratt] that I couldn’t afford more than four actors or a set more than £1000, so he wrote it as a play for two actors who play lots of different characters.’
The production opened in the West End in 1989, and has also toured nationally and in the United States, South America, Tokyo and Singapore. Over seven million people have lived to tell the tale.
‘It is a play which celebrates the art of acting and the sorts of theatrical magic that can only happen in live theatre,’ says Robin. ‘Audiences don’t know where the scares are coming from next.’
The UK tour runs concurrently with the West End production.
‘The extraordinary thing about this play is that it expands and contracts to fit the space it is in because the conceipt of the play is that it happens in an empty theatre,’ says Robin.
‘The show has been performed in the bar of a theatre with 70 seats to the Liverpool Empire which seats 2300.’
The Woman In Black comes to The Kings from Monday, March 9 until Saturday, March 14. Tickets: £20-25, call (023) 9282 8282 or visit kingsportsmouth.co.uk