GT Stage

Theatre review

The Woman In Black

What better time to scare yourself witless with The Woman In Black at the Fortune Theatre? The film, with Daniel Radcliffe as Arthur Kipps, is out early next month and the stage show is its primary source.

While it's fair to say that it would have been scarier five years ago, before the recent spate of found-footage ghost movies which break more codes and expectations than traditional tales like this one, the show was still excellent. David Acton was in the lead role as Arthur Kipps and was especially fantastic, whose occasional breakdowns at seeing his own story unfold in the realm of theatre are genuinely upsetting. The imaginative use of the relatively propless stage is relentlessly impressive too, and in the moments where the entire theatre is dropped into complete darkness the tension is unbearable.

But there are times throughout where everything leads to a point and something terrifying is surely about to happen, but then either nothing happens or the lights simply turn back on. There are several false scares like this right up until the end, making you feel silly for being so susceptible to their tricks. Therein lies the confusion – was it meant to be a scare? Or is it just that memories of Paranormal Activity and the like are still resonating, causing you to be an endlessly nervous wreck?

So in essence The Woman In Black is indeed still a genius use of the stage, but it might be time to consider making it scarier. It’ll be interesting to see how nerve-wracking the upcoming film is because it’s a discourse which is in far closer proximity than the stage show to what’s recently made western civilisation so numbed.

Whatever the case, this West End incarnation of the classic tale still has the power to give you the willies (fnar) – but perhaps those willies are starting to wane.

Words: Matt Brigden


Fortune Theatre
Russell Street,
Covent Garden

For tickets to Woman In Black or to visit the official website, click here.

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