Beyond the Veil: The Woman in Black Review

I am endlessly forgetful. If it’s not written down, or an emo song lyric from the early 2000’s, I just won’t remember it. Needless to say, I was so impressed with the incredible display from just two men on stage as they told the tale of The Woman in Black.

Disclaimer: Press review

Quite often in the theatre, actors get some respite while their characters are not on stage for a while – but with this extraordinary play, that’s not the case. The Woman in Black is a ghost story in the most pure way you can imagine – it’s akin to someone sitting with you in the woods, telling you of spectral appearances while you scream at every tension-dripping moment.

In the play an elderly Arthur Kipps (Malcom James) hires a younger actor (Mark Hawkins) to provide him with lessons so he might tell his story to the best of his abilities. The two decide to bring the story to life on stage, to re-enact the terrible things that occurred to Arthur when he was young, with Hawkins taking the role of Arthur within the flashback, and Arthur playing all other characters throughout.

It is truly astonishing what horror can be achieved with expert lighting and effects, minimal props, and two brilliantly talented men and a fake dog on stage! (I’ve never wanted an imaginary creature to survive so much!) The Belgrade Theatre set the space for an eerie landscape on a remote and misty island with the foreboding Eel Marsh House.

The tension is palpable throughout – so much so that I admit I did close my eyes and clutch my girlfriend’s hand for a lot of the second half… The atmosphere was uneasy and disturbing, which makes you sit on the edge of your seat (and made a few of the younger audience members scream… at a door opening when it shouldn’t.)

Hawkins and James balanced the tension with relief and humour so well that it was a joy to watch – the play is so cleverly written but it really is only as good as the actors on the night. They had impeccable timing, a great connection, and the versatility of Malcolm James with all the characters he had to play was a credit to his talents as an actor.

I cannot recommend seeing this play enough, particularly if you’re studying drama and you’re aiming to build tension in your pieces. It’s a delightful and thrilling way to spend an evening if you love a good scare… Expect to be on high alert when you walk home!

Leave a Reply