Play review by Julia Pattison: The Woman in Black at Grand Opera House, York
Play: The Woman In Black
Venue: Grand Opera House, York
Dates: Until Saturday, September 18, 2021
Review by: Julia Pattison
After 547 days, the lights were able to come back on at the Grand Opera House, York, and we all eagerly anticipated the opening night of this beautiful theatre, and the first performance in York of PW Productions’ The Woman In Black.
Every possible measure had been put in place for the safety, well-being and enjoyment for all members of the audience.
It was most reassuring to know that everyone in the theatre had demonstrated their Covid-19 status in order to gain entry, and the atmosphere was both relaxed, and buzzing.
Playwright Stephen Mallatratt had adapted Susan Hill’s novel The Woman In Black into a play within a play, where a cast of two must do everything, supported by a backstage crew of unsung heroes, with the original premise of Susan’s story being developed and enhanced – no mean feat!
It seemed to take a little while for the play to get going, but once it did, I was bowled over with the inventive use of lights, sound effects, minimal props, and the skill of two very talented and proficient actors, Robert Goodale, playing lawyer Arthur Kipps and Antony Eden playing The Actor.
Under Robin Herford’s direction, we were drawn into the play hook by hook, and we felt connected to the actors and the action; moments of comedy were cleverly interwoven when the tension became almost unbearable at times.
The mysterious house on the marshes kept its secret right till the grisly end…The Woman In Black herself was a grim force to be reckoned with – Gothic theatre at its best.
The magic of good theatre cast its spell over all of us in the audience; it was best to appreciate it, not to ask how the magic worked, but to let your imagination run wild.
As everyone left the theatre on that special night, they were personally presented with a sparkly goodie bag, filled with specially themed treats – a lovely surprise, and warm and welcome gesture from the Grand Opera House. It was so good to be back!