The Woman in Black

The Woman in Black actors
Mark Hawkins and Malcolm James

Watching live theatre and the reaction of the audience is one of life’s little joys.

So, it was funny to listen to the genuine screams of horror as The Woman in Black play unfurled at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow.

Based on Susan Hill’s novel, this showstopper has been treading the boards for the last 30 odd years, but it still seems as fresh as a daisy.

There have been slight changes to bring it up to speed with modern day life, but basically, it’s such a great story, that it’s easy to follow.

Deceptively simple, but brilliantly constructed, the story begins with Arthur Kipps, who has asked an actor for some professional help in public speaking in order for him to tell his “true story” to family and friends.

The simple, but effective stage designed by Michael Holt is imaginary for the audience, with clever lighting and sounds by Kevin Sleep, Rod Mead, Sebastian Frost and Adam Koczan, switching from pony and trap to the track and then on to the spooky Eel Marsh House.

There are just two actors, Malcolm James as Kipps and Mark Hawkins playing The Actor and both are superb.

The Woman in Black play
Mark Hawkins playing The Actor

With plenty of lines to remember and tricky improvisations to perform, the duo are flawless in their performance.

Hawkins begins gently as he enthusiastically tries to push his student to perform, rather than to recite his story and then racks the fear up as the gothic story unfolds.

James multi-tasks and switches characters with ease, physically and in voice and tone and its fascinating to watch an artist at work.

As the audience gets entranced by the spooky tale, humour and terror is brought in at an astonishing speed and the smoky and dimly lit atmosphere adds to the all-round ghoulishness of it all.

It’s a fantastic piece of theatre which keeps the audience on the edge of their seats and engaged from beginning to end.

The Woman in Black is currently on at the Theatre Royal Glasgow until Saturday 30th March before moving on to Milton Keynes Theatre from 2nd to 6th April. For ticket availability please visit:

Author Bio:

Rebecca Hay is an experienced travel writer and member of The British Guild of Travel Writers. Follow her adventures with her family on Twitter and Instagram @emojiadventurer and on Facebook via EmojiAdventurers2.

Photographs by Mark Douet

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