Woman in Black still as scary as ever

THE WOMAN IN BLACK,SHEFFIELD LYCEUM

Tuesday, 8th October 2019, 11:29 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th October 2019, 2:15 pm

Soon after the Lyceum re-opened TV stars Frank Windsor and Brian Deacon came on tour with The Woman in Black, a spinechiller notorious for scaring the pants of audiences. Still with that reputation the play has made regular returns over the years with little changes to the production apart from the cast.

As director Robin Herford notes in the programme its enduring appeal is its very simplicity and inventive theatricality.

In the hope of exorcising a curse he believes has been cast over him and his family by the spectre of a Woman in Black a solicitor engages a sceptical young actor to re-enact the events that have troubled him for years.Susan Hill’s ghost story has been filmed twice but it works better on stage where so much is left to the imagination.

Rather than opened out it is pared down to a two-hander with Robert Goodale as the solicitor, Arthur Kipps, assuming various characters in his story while Daniel Easton as the actor plays him as a young man re-living his nightmare visit to a remote house on the marshes.

It relies on minimum props and lighting and sound effects, much of them classic horror tropes such as creaking rocking chairs, screams and bangs – which evoke shocked squeals from the younger element of the audience that help build tension with everyone else, including those who have probably seen it before. Ian Soutar