Following a hugely successful run back in 2015, 'The Woman In Black' is once again sweeping through Portsmouth on this latest UK tour - and she is adamant to instil more fear in her audiences than ever before!
Essentially a two hander, 'The Woman In Black' follows the play within a play format as we meet our storytellers; Arthur Kipps (David Acton) and The Actor (Matthew Spencer). Kipps has written a story of certain troubling experiences within his life, with the purpose of having this work re-enacted out in a bid to finally 'lay his ghost' to rest. From here things start to get dark and mysterious as we are drawn deeper into the horrifying stories of Kipps' past.
David Acton and Matthew Spencer give fine performances here, fully complimenting one another as part of their dynamic duo partnership. Spencer, in particular, has a raw energy and devotion to bringing the reality of Kipps' situation not just to his own 'Actor' self, but to the audience as well.
Robin Herford was not tasked with an easy job as director for this piece. Whilst he has ultimately opted for as simplistic a set-up possible in terms of set design, costumes and props, he has clearly invested a lot of time into bringing the most out of his actors' stories and ensuring that this does not lose focus nor prominence, despite some convoluted exposition of the narrative at times.
Herford's use of simplistic effects pays dividends here, never more so than in the simple yet highly effective lighting sequence which acts as the guide to let us know when Kipps and The Actor are no longer 'acting' and are back to their respective characters.
Undoubtedly the star of the show is the titular character herself, the much anticipated Woman In Black. Evoking an extreme 'horror movie style' reaction from the audience at every opportunity she has, just a sheer glimpse of her sends the entire audience into a mad frenzy with blood curdling screams echoing round the theatre auditorium.
Bold, original and unique is the best way to simply critique this piece. Whilst some of the heavily exposition led dialogue can sometimes leave your mind wondering just when the next scare will be to keep the 'fun' of the piece going, that is of absolutely no discredit to the work of the actors nor the creative team behind this production.
If you are looking for an evening of live theatrical entertainment with scares, jumps and audience screams lurking round each corner then make sure you don't miss your chance to catch 'The Woman In Black' - but be quick...she's only in town until Saturday 1st April!