REVIEW: The Woman in Black at Cambrigde Arts Theatre

A scene from The Woman In Black.

A scene from The Woman In Black. - Credit: Tristram Kenton

The Woman in Black at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, February 2. Review by ANGELA SINGER.

THE screams were piercing – and that was just the audience.

The Woman in Black is still scary after all these years. It shouldn’t be. It’s just a play, isn’t it? But when you get home, you will put on the light before you go upstairs.

The teenage girl I took with me sat buried under a coat and with her thumb in her mouth. Best thing to do with teenagers, switch of their smart phone and scare them out of their wits.

Julian Forsyth and Antony Eden who play all the male roles are superb in conveying fear, horror and a general atmosphere of whistling in the dark. So you always know that something is ... wrong. Then there are bangs and shrieks to make your heart thump.

The Vision (Audrone Koc) sends a chill down your spine. The ghostly screams had everyone jumping out of their seats. Between the three of them, they bring Susan Hill’s story to something much larger than life and so much more frightening than you should expect to see on a stage.

The play is beautifully executed in lighting, design, staging and performance. You find yourself looking round to make sure the ghost isn’t somehow standing behind you ready to tap you on the shoulder. If they did that, they would have to medics in the theatre.

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Reminiscent of Charles Dickens’ ghost story The Haunting, which has also been adapted for the stage, this is a classic tale of a young solicitor who must visit a desolate old house to sort out the papers after an old lady has died.

He is alone there. It is an isolated place that no one in the village dares to visit – so who or what is making those noises in an empty room? And who is the Woman in Black with the white skin stretched over the bones in her face? Why does the apparition appear and disappear just when he least expects her?

This excellent play is not for the faint-hearted, it’s terrifyingly good. The Woman in Black will haunt you all the way home.