Bristol Theatre Reviews

The Woman in Black Review 2023 – Fortune Theatre

On Saturday 07 January 2023, we went to see The Woman in Black at the Fortune Theatre. Two of us had seen it back in 2018, but with a now second older child who absolutely loves horror movies, it felt right that we went back to see it with her in tow.

Within what felt like hours of booking, by chance, an announcement was made that the play was to finally close in London after an astonishing 33 years.

It’s sad to see the play come to an end because it’s a corker and I’ve fingers crossed they bring it out on a UK tour in the near future.

As a family trip to see the play in London, this is not so much a review as an honorable mention.

That a play featuring just two actors, a curtain and wicker basket could create such a long-running theatrical legend is marvelous. Seeing it for the second time, the show still feels fresh and exciting. This is entirely down to the wonderful cast and a production which strips theatre down to the basics of storytelling, imagination and some well-timed sound effects to provide jump-scares.

Despite the theatre providing my autistic children with a list of sound cues to help them access the show, the train sound effect is brilliantly timed, taking us from the comic beginning and setting the audience on edge for the slow-burn to come.

Famed for its two-cast performance, I don’t think – with the exception of the quite wonderful Felix Hayes – that I could love a performance in a play as much as Matthew Spencer’s warm and earnest Actor. From the outset, he brings the audience in as both The Actor and young Arthur Kipps and makes us care about their fate. Although I’ve seen the play before, it felt brand new and at times, I was on the edge of my seat.

Julian Forsyth is Arthur Kipps as well as everyone else in Crythin Gifford. As the actors jump from character to character and flashbacks, it doesn’t become confusing and a childhood spent watching shows at Tobacco Factory Theatres in Bristol meant my children were well-prepared for this approach.

It will be sad to see the play go. It’s an institution. It’s loss will be a theatrical bereavement.

The Woman in Black will be at the Fortune Theatre until Saturday 04 March 2023.

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