‘The Woman in Black’ will haunt audiences
By Faith Elder - Staff Reporter
The Woman in Black lives up to its spine-tingling rep- utation, bringing a chilling story to life.
The first national tour of The Woman in Black has ar- rived at the Seattle Reperto- ry Theater, running through March 24.
The play follows Arthur Kipps, an aging and nervous lawyer, who hires a young actor to help share his long hidden story. To tell this story, the actor assumes the role of Kipps, portraying the man's earlier experiences. Kipps then portrays every other character that he met in his adventures. By helping tell Kipps' story, both men learn the warning of spirits of Kipps' past.
The Woman in Black, al- though written like a classic penny dreadful, is based on Susan Hill's gothic-style nov- el, which wasn't published un- til 1983. Adapted by Stephan Mallatrat in 1987 and first performed in 1988, the play has been a fixture of London's West End for 30 years. In this first American tour, the show has been reimagined once again under director Robin Herford.
Since the play is written in the style of a gothic novel, it falls into many of the clichĂ© plot points: the ghost story takes place in a remote village where everyone knows about the spirits but refuses to talk about them; Kipps is sent to live in an empty estate, com- plete with family graveyard; and Kipps keeps hearing things move in the night. If
someone has been told a ghost story before, they will proba- bly recognize parts of it in this play.
But while it leans on clas- sic story elements, there are still a couple of unexpected scares. For those who jump
easily, this show lives up to its spooky reputation, so please leave the kids at home.
In this tour, Kipps is per- formed by Bradley Armacost and the Actor is played by Adam Wesley Brown. Both actors are based in Chicago and have extensive experience with Shakespearean works, which shows in their perfor- mances, as the play includes several extended monologues.
The performers also bring moments of light humor to the dark story, giving audi- ences a moment to laugh be-
fore sweeping them back into suspense.
But bedside the perfor- mances, the real stars of this production are Michael Holt's set design, Kevin Sleep's lighting, and Rod Mead and Gareth Owen's sound design.
While the set was made of simple objects â€“ a ripped and dirty scrim, two chairs, a large wicker basket, and some assorted furniture â€“ these items become an entire world, including a train, a graveyard, a nursery, and multiple offic- es.
Part of this transformation is due to the clear shifts in lighting and soundscape, in- dicating where the scene is set, as well as helping to build sus- pense. The lighting and sound shifts also indicate whether the scene is taking place be- tween Kipps and the actor, or in Kipps' story.
Overall, The Woman in Black is a straightforward play and an easy watch, although sometimes predictable. But while the script has its issues and is a bit overdone, this production and staging make this simple story much more interesting, from the perfor- mances to the design.
The Woman in Black
haunts Seattle until March 24, so grab a date and enjoy a night out.
Tickets start at $17 and range up to $82. Discounts are available to students, se- niors, and veterans, but all discounted tickets must be verified and picked up at will call. Box office is open every day from noon to 7:30 p.m.
Evening performances of The Woman in Black begin at 7:30 p.m. and afternoon mat- inees begin at 2 p.m. Since parking near Seattle Center can be messy, be sure to arrive early to performances.
The address for the Seattle Repertory Theater is 155 Mer- cer St., Seattle.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit https:// www.seattlerep.org/Buy/Tick- ets/Production/6798 or call the Seattle Reparatory box office at 206-443-2222.