Perfect for Halloween time, the Pasadena Playhouse is presenting one of London’s most successful – and terrifying – theater events ever staged – Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black. It is here directed by Robin Herford, performing through Nov. 11, 2018.
This gothic ghost story, adapted for the stage by Stephen Mallatratt, is set in an isolated eerie mansion — with tragic secrets hidden behind its shuttered windows. There, a young lawyer encounters horrific visions in a house set amidst unnerving marshes and the howling winds of the North Coast of England. He is a man obsessed, believing that his family has been cursed by a ghostly woman in black; he needs to tell his terrifying story to exorcise the fear that grips his soul.
With just two speaking actors, Adam Wesley Brown as “The Actor” and Bradley Armacost as “Arthur Kipps,” The Woman in Black gives you an evening of scares and thrills as you are transported into their chilling and ghostly world. The Actor and Mr. Kipps are rehearsing for a play in which the latter’s memories are told. A lot of lines are delivered, as they “travel in time” between the past and the present, and Wesley Brown and Armacost manage to both amuse you and scare you. There is a third person on stage, The Woman in Black herself, played by Chloe Baldwin, who, even with no dialogue at all, becomes the figure that your eye is always searching for.
The lighting (and the darkness) designed by Kevin Sleep and Anshuman Bhatia, is extremely important in this play. The story is also effective thanks to the sound (done by Gareth Owen), and to the clever set-up of the stage.
It is common to feel emotional while watching a moving drama on stage, to laugh at an entertaining comedy, and even to cringe at a bloody Shakespeare scene. It is less common to feel scared while watching theater, to hear others in the audience gasp or openly scream, and to find yourself finding “protection” under your sweater. But it all happens while watching The Woman in Black, and it is a treat that you should give yourself this Halloween.
Tickets start at $25 and are available at pasadenaplayhouse.org, by phone at 626-356-7529, and at the box office at 39 South El Molino Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101.
Photo: Adam Wesley Brown in “The Woman in Black” / Credit: Roger Mostroianni
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