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Woman in Black - An Intense Experience
17 Aug 2021
by David Ballinger

My Shrewsbury reviewer David Ballinger lets himself in for a night in the company of The Woman in Black at Theatre Severn and just about lives to tell the tale. 

I’m not one for horror stories, especially the modern ones, but don’t mind a good old-fashioned ghost tale.

So it was great to sit down and watch The Woman in Black at (a still socially-distanced) Severn Theatre in Shrewsbury.

Based on Susan Hill’s acclaimed novel, ageing lawyer Arthur Kipps engages a young actor to help him tell his terrifying tale in a bid to exorcise the fear that has haunted him for most of his life. 

It all begins serenely enough with some light-hearted exchanges, but then the audience begin to get caught up in the story and find themselves enveloped in the action. 

We are transported back in time from the 1950s, at first thirty years, and then into the Victorian era and the harrowing tragedy of the Drablow family – you almost taste and smell the cold, dank, eerie marsh and the sense of foreboding at the ancient house. 

The staging is sparse and simple with just a few props and costumes – yet the sound, lighting and stage effects (especially smoke) helping to create the ghostly atmosphere as the play progresses. 

It is basically a two-hander acting wise – although that, of course, ignores the Woman in Black which you obviously do at your peril – and Antony Eden and Robert Goodale are both excellent in their roles. 

It is their physical acting skills, in addition to the delivery of their many lines, which help drive the action and intensity towards its inevitable tragic conclusion. 

There are plenty of scares along the way as the Woman in Black begins to loom large over the action. 

The Woman in Black runs at Theatre Severn until Saturday and there may be a few tickets left for some performances – pick one up if you dare! 

www.theatresevern.co.uk