The Woman in Black at the Gaiety Theatre
The acclaimed stage production of Susan Hill’s 1983 novella, The Woman In Black, returns to the Gaiety Theatre for one week only from 13 to 18 March. Stephen Mallatratt’s ingenious adaptation has been universally acclaimed and been seen by over 8 million people over the last 27 years, becoming the second longest-running non-musical play in the history of the West End in the process.
Lovers of ghost stories and gothic horror will love this gripping production, which is directed by Robin Herford and designed by Michael Holt. A lawyer obsessed with a curse that he believes has been cast over him and his family by the spectre of a Woman in Black, engages a sceptical young actor to help him tell his terrifying story and exorcise the fear that grips his soul. It all begins innocently enough, but then, as they reach further into his darkest memories, they find themselves caught up in a world of eerie marshes and moaning winds. The play is actually a play within a play. The plot remains faithful to Hill’s book but with the added dimension of the lawyer, Arthur Kipps, hiring The Actor to help dramatise what happened to him when he was a young solicitor many years ago.
Back then, Arthur journeyed to the small market town of Crythin Gifford to attend the funeral of a client, Mrs. Alice Drablow. At the funeral, he saw a young woman dressed all in black, standing in the churchyard. Bemused by the villagers’ reluctance to speak of the woman in black, Arthur went to Mrs. Drablow’s former abode, an old building in the middle of a marsh, which was cut off from the mainland at high tide. There he found a box of letters, and ultimately discovered the dreadful secret of the Woman in Black – to his own terrible cost.
David Acton plays Arthur Kipps, with Matthew Spencer playing The Actor. Both actors are vastly experienced. Acton has appeared in the films After Death and Persuasion, as well as a host of TV shows, including Downton Abbey, Doctors, Hostage, EastEnders, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and Casualty. On stage he has appeared in a diverse range of productions, including Jane Wenham the Witch of Walkern (Out of Joint) and Richard II (Palace of Westminster and Arcola), I Have Been Here Before (Nottingham Playhouse), Relatively Speaking (Newbury Watermill) and The Dark Things (Edinburgh Traverse).
Matthew Spencer created the role of ‘Syme’ in Robert Icke’s original Headlong production of 1984 which played at Nottingham and then toured the Almeida Theatre and the Playhouse Theatre. In the 2014 tour of the same production, he played the lead role of Winston. He has appeared in the successful BBC TV series My Family, as well as in the films Alice and The Runner (which won the People’s Choice Award and Best Short Film at the 2013 Reed Film Festival).
These two terrific actors will bring Hill’s gripping tale to life at the Gaiety for what is sure to be an electrifying week on the famous old stage. Make sure to book your tickets early as this performance is for one week only, with nightly performances at 7.30pm and a Saturday Matinee at 2.30pm. Tickets from €16 are available from the Gaiety Box Office, from Ticketmaster outlets nationwide or ticketmaster.ie.