Are you a thrill seeking, horror obsessed, theatre lover trying to find a great theatre production to watch in the new year? If so The Woman in Black playing at the Fortune Theatre is nothing but perfect for you. Full of action, jump scares and on the edge of your seat moments, the Woman in Black is a powerful play adapted by the late playwright, Stephen Mallatratt from the book by Susan Hill. With a two member cast, the play feels personal, as well as the small cast giving this West End show a unique edge. 

The Woman in Black is about an older man named Arthur Kipps who is a retired solicitor. He had his experience with the ghost of the Women in Black, when he was sent by his boss to Eel Marsh House, a haunted and derelict mansion, beyond a causeway. As an older man Kipps wants to tell his spooky story to others and gets the help from an experienced and bubbly actor. However due to Kipps lack of acting experience, the actor plays the younger version of Kipps, and an older Kipps takes on the other characters in his story. The performance gradually steers away from the the theatre aspect of the plot and merges into the spooky foretelling of a young Kipps encounter with the Woman in Black. 

The first performance of the Woman in Black was performed at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough in 1987. Since then the play has been performed at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith and the first performance at the Fortune Theatre, London was in June 1989. 
The Fortune Theatre was opened in 1924 and was the first London theatre to be built after World War I. Previously the Fortune Theatre has been named as one of the most intimate theatres with only 432 seats, and compared to other West End theatres, such as the Apollo Victoria Theatre which holds 2,328 seats, the Fortune is definitely one of smaller theatres. However the small size of the Fortune Theatre suits the play of the Woman in Black, as the close and tight space makes the play even more spooky.

In addition to the creepy plot and scary theatre, the two actors, Stuart Fox (Arthur Kipps) and Matthew Spencer (The Actor) always deliver an outstanding performance, using acting techniques to convey the characters emotions, the main emotion being fear! The idea of a live theatre ghost performance is genius, but it also means there will be a few shrieks from the more vocal audience members and others will take the approach of covering their eyes. However even-though the play is very scary, the calm beginning and the large amount of comedy is slightly unsettling as the audience knows the play will have a turning point.

Sade Hunt, a recent Woman in Black audience member says “ I think that they managed to create both comedy and fear which made it really entertaining and kept the audience on the edge of their seats.” 

There have been quite a few adaptations of Susan Hills book of the Woman in Black such as the 1989 television adaptation for ITV, a 1993 four part radio broadcast adaption on BBC Radio 5 and in 2004 another radio broadcast on BBC Radio 4. In the last decade there have been film adaptions including the 2012 movie of the Woman in Black starring Daniel Radcliffe and a sequel to this movie in 2015, The Woman in Black: Angel of Death produced by Hammer Film Productions and Entertainment One. 

The Woman in Black is a must watch theatre play that I would highly recommend seeing. You will not regret seeing this play and all the superb technical aspects that go along with it. Although the Fortune is a beautiful theatre, its small size means that tickets sell very quickly, so start booking dates now!

By Mercedes van Niekerk