Friday, 12 March 2010

Theatre: The Woman in Black by Stephen Mallatrat

Today, in my trip to London, I had already schedule a trip to the Theatre, after a long time being not able to go and see a play ( the last one being in Portugal, 4 years ago). With Phil's recommendation, I chose to go and see The Woman in Black at the Fortune Theatre.

The Woman in Black is a play written by Stephen Mallatrat as an adaptation from the book with the same name by Susan Hill. Starring in this play is 2 actors, Julian Forsyth and Christopher Naylor, with an extensive curriculum inside the theatre world.

The Woman in Black's plot:

Eel Marsh House stands tall, gaunt and isolated, surveying the endless flat saltmarshes beyond the Nine Lives Causeway, somewhere on England's bleak East Coast. Here Mrs Alice Drablow lived - and died - alone. Young Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor, is ordered by his firm's senior partner to travel up from London to attend her funeral and then sort out all her papers. His task is a lonely one, and at first Kipps is quite unaware of the tragic secrets which lie behind the house's shuttered windows. He only has a terrible sense of unease. And then, he glimpses a young woman with a wasted face, dressed all in black, at the back of the church during Mrs Drablow's funeral, and later, in the graveyard to one side of Eel Marsh House. Who is she? Why is she there? He asks questions, but the locals not only cannot or will not give him answers - they refuse to talk about the woman in black, or even to acknowledge her existence, at all. So, Arthur Kipps has to wait until he sees her again, and she slowly reveals her identity to him - and her terrible purpose.

from The Woman in Black Website found Here

As I sat down in the theatre hall, i didnt know what to expect, with some hints by Phil saying that the audience got scared when he went to see it, I never realised that it could actually happen.
The play starts at slow place, waiting for Mr. Kipps to tell the story, adding some little humour here and there to make the audience more comfortable to what was yet to come but also building the suspense. Mr. Kipps wrote the script for this play that our actor is eager to play, and so it starts a play inside of a play, which in my opinion is genial. Although is a play inside of a play, as we advance in the story that is no longer visible, we perceive it as not a play anymore but only the story of Mr. Kipps. And what an incredible story, spooky and chilling every second told, from strange happenings in the mansion and the uncanny room and music that it associates to the silence of the villagers in relationship to that subject.
In this play, I wasnt only looking about the story, but also the acting, which was really persuasive, making the audience believe and believe, feel and feel.
the sound effects were playing a big part in the whole play because they conveyed something that wasn't really there, something imaginary. They also emphasized the whole piece from chilling moments like the loud screams of the young woman with a wasted face or the music box with the uncanny tune to the environment effects and transport effects, making the stage a living world. In this piece, the sound played a big role, because it had to convey a imaginary world, that was not present on stage, but it was in our imagination. As the stage featured a trunk, a chair, pillows and some clothing. nothing that was visible could convey, but the power of sound made it possible.
However, not only the sound played a big role on the piece, but also the lighting, the light created environment, showed imaginary places like the Mansion, it created spaces and it gave character to a room, nevertheless to mention that was all the time the same place.
Also the way that all the set was made, although it consisted in only a stage, a back stage and a upper level, it conveyed much more than that, it showed a hotel, a whole labyrintic mansion, a train, the village, etc. inside only 3 spaces, and that what I love in theatre, you can imagine and imagine, with only clues.
All these factors made this a brilliant play, it doesnt have all this fancy set designs, it just really has what it needs a room with some objects, a well done set construction, good lighting, good sound, good acting and a lot of imagination and you can create the most terrifying of the worlds and the most terrifying of the situations.
In my opinion, it works as
a contribution not only is an amazing play with convicing acting but also relies on the spectator to visualize and understand it.
Finally to mention the ending, which I think it was brilliant, I wont tell it as I may spoil for future theatre goers, but the fact it didnt explicited or explained everything made me a happier but rather terrified spectator.

I can say every second watched was worthwhile, a chilling and really frighting experience, that will give you goosebumps shivers down your spine and all sorts of uneasiness. If your faint-hearted I advise to be careful, as my own heartwas pumping in some of the parts.

Thank you! Phil for the recommendation of a good evening.

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