By Lori Bosworth
It’s no surprise that The Woman in Black at the Lower Ossington Theatre is the second longest-running play in London’s West End and was recently produced as a film starring Harry Potter‘s Daniel Radcliffe. The play adaptation by Stephen Mallatratt of the book by Susan Hill is a classic thriller that features a setting in a northeast English village with marshes, mist, and mystery. The frame narrative includes a self-referential element as the play begins, with the older Kipps trying to engage a young actor to re-enact his story so that he may find closure.
Solicitor Kipps is sent to Crythin Gifford on the northeast coast of England to wrap up the estate of the recently deceased, Alice Drablow. It turns out that the Drablow home has secrets of its own. In the course of his visit, Kipps hears children’s screams and witnesses the apparition of a woman in black at Drablow’s funeral. Despite warnings from the local townsfolk, Kipps is determined to accomplish his mission.
All of this is a recipe for a good, hair-raising thriller and the Lower Ossington Theatre’s production is not for the easily frightened.
Andre Preda is completely believable as the young Kipps, possessing total command of his role and conveying both fear and conviction in pursuing his objective. Adrian Griffiths as the actor and other characters Kipps encounters imbues his characters with the shaken confidence of those who have encountered the supernatural.
Although Alan Kinsella’s direction produced lags in the first few scenes, the pace quickly picks up and there’s no turning back as you are riveted by the haunting narrative.
Chris Malkowski’s lighting helps the audience conjure an old English mansion and contributes to the eerie scene on stage, particularly effective when apparitions appear out of the blue. J.T. Pickering’s sound effects took me over the brink more than once.
The Woman in Black at the Lower Ossington Theatre is a highly entertaining piece (especially if you love English mysteries) that will have you on the edge of your seat at times.