Fortune Theatre (venue)
07 September 2021 (released)
08 September 2021
After 540 long days tonight marked the return of The Woman In Black to its longstanding home the Fortune Theatre. Such an intimate venue it makes makes every one of it's 430 seats is a joy. The Woman In Black is the West Ends second longest running play, after the unstoppable 'Mousetrap'. It has been frightening theatregoers here since 1989. It opened in Scarborough (birthplace of original novelist Susan Hill) Christmas 1987 but such was it's success that it then transferred to London and after bouncing around some theatres took up permanent residence at the Fortune Theatre and you couldn't ask for a better setting. Built in 1924 it was the first theatre to be built after World War 1 and the walls seem to seep the ghostly echoes of the past.
A play within a play, the story unfolds around the older Arthur Kipps, played by Terence Wilton, and The Actor, played by Max Hutchinson. Kipps wishes to recount the horror that befell him to his family and takes up the services of The Actor. The initial comic scenes give way to ever-growing drama as the minimalist stage props are used to dramatic effect to tell the tale and demise of Alice Drablow. A baby born to her umarried sister, Jennet Humfrye (The Woman In Black) becomes hers, death pain fright and foreboding ensue. It's a well told tale which still jolts crowds night after night. Whenever The Lady in Black is seen a child inevitably dies. Arthur Kipps recounts his tale with its inevitably chilling resolution.
Both Wilton and Hutchinson deliver impeccable performances in a play that has become playwright Stephen Mallatratt's legacy. The writing is as fresh today as ever it was, I would wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone who likes a chilling tale well told and the odd bloodcurdling scream.
Tonight's performance was made all the more affecting as Executive Chairman Peter Wilson took to the stage during the applause with an impassioned speech celebrating the theatre's return after a very long 540 days. During which offered every person a glass of bubbly (which arrived instantly) to toast a new beginning together with 'imagination'. 'Hear hear' and long may it continue!