The Woman in Black: The West End classic continues its moving legacy

Tucked away behind the streets of the West End is a small theater shrouded in history and horror, which houses one of the most notoriously terrifying classics on stage. The modest Fortune Theater has hosted many plays over its century of operation, but none are as spooky as ‘The woman in black.’ Directed by Stephen Mallatratt in 1989 and based on the 1983 novel by Susan Hill, the play stays true to its original thriller style but continues to terrify audiences after more than 3 decades with its unique approach and intimate but disconcerting…

Although officially celebrating its anniversary in 2019, the production was reintroduced last year to invite anyone brave enough to watch the horrific tale. Known for its mystery surrounding the disturbing main character, the production takes elements of gothic literature and combines them with occasional comic relief to create a truly unforgettable experience. Beginning with an opening scene depicting a crumbling curse, audiences were hooked from the start. Actors Terence Wilton and Max Hutchinson did a fantastic recreation of the minimalist script, bringing tension to everyone in the theater as they entered the infamous Eel Marsh House.

Countless West End admirers flock to the Fortune Theater every year, including Gillian McGuinness, who saw the thrilling story for herself on her 20th birthday. “I didn’t know anything about the play before going to see it,” she admits, “so I didn’t think I would be so scared – especially towards the end of the playground scene!“Despite its size – in fact, it is believed to be one of London’s smallest theater houses – the theater offers plenty of perspectives from which to view history in all its glory. Spectators in the pits were given a suspenseful surprise when a thick cloud of smoke began to emerge from the stage, obscuring their vision as actor Hutchinson paced the theatre: the seats designed for an interactive experience to chill the blood !

Due to its impressive runtime, rave reviews have accrued not only in the ancient hall of the Fortune Theater, but across the country in this traveling production. When asked if she would return to one of London’s hidden performing arts gems, McGuinness immediately said yes: even after experiencing the West End staples of hamilton for The Lion King, she described Mallatratt’s portrayal as “surprisingly thrilling”, from the humorous introduction of lead character Kipps to the daunting conclusion of the ghostly woman’s terrifying face shimmering in the dramatic stage light, sealing the audience’s fate. If you’re looking for an afternoon of horror or distinctive drama among the many London productions, The Woman in Black is a stunning contender!

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