Review: THE WOMAN IN BLACK at Pumphouse

Produced by Masked Productions, Directed by Matt Baker and Starring Michael Hurst and Zane Fleming

By: Jun. 14, 2022
Review: THE WOMAN IN BLACK at Pumphouse


I've learned tonight that there's a classy variety of scared, a top-shelf sophisticated kind of scared, and a kind of scared that is addictive; wanting more of the fear, the fright the frenetic.

I'm just home from the opening night of
"The Woman in Black" is produced by Keith Marr and Zane Fleming who are "Masked Productions' at the Pumphouse Theatre Takapuna.

It's late and I am awake, my senses heightened and I'm both enthralled and thrilled as a result of this outstanding production.

No one is going to ask Director Matt Baker to justify why he's an award winner. The symmetry of movement from one scene to another is cleverly crafted, the nuances, and the details are all there contributing to the knife-edge anticipation that holds the audience.

Baker and his team have taken a complex story and delivered it in a seamless flow that captivates, in fact, demands the immersion of the audience from start to finish and then on the way home in the car and into the night.

The set and props are simple and creatively designed for seamless transitions including the replication of the eerie, fog-shrouded marshes that surround the inhospitable Eel Marsh House with its creaks and moans.

This play requires high expectations of execution and deliver and its performers. Michael Hurst and Zane Fleming deliver.

Michael Hurst simply 'is'

As I watched him, the lyrics to a song from Les Miserable came to mind;

' Master of the house, quick to catch yer eye; never was a passerby to pass him by. '

He is simply unpassable.

Zane Fleming takes on both producer and player.

Alongside Hurst, this is a situation of the apprentice meets the master. Hurst leads and Fleming follows in the opening scenes then Fleming steps up to the mastery, meeting Hurst eye to eye.

It's mesmerising, it's a must-see - oh and I cannot forget Spider the dog. Yep, Spider is worthy of a mention.

The audience is rattled, thrown off their axis and the anticipation of what's next grips them. Some laugh that nervous cover-up laugh, usually just before they shriek.

Go see this production. It's superb.

Here's the synopsis if you need it - Just go see the play.

Arthur Kipps,(Michael Hurst) a retired lawyer in his late 60s, is haunted by the ghosts of his past. Now, after so many years in a desperate attempt to rid himself of these dark memories, he hires a dilapidated theatre space and a young actor (Zane Fleming) to help him tell his story to hopefully banish the entity that has caused him so much pain and heartache.

Can he finally be free of this nightmare? Will his loved ones understand or even believe the horrors he has to tell? Journey with us now deep into the fog and come face to face with the thing that goes bump in the night, the shadow in the corner of your eye, the breath on the back of your neck ... The Woman in Black.

Originally a novel, written by Susan Hill in 1983, 'The Woman in Black' was adapted for the stage in 1987 by Stephen Mallatratt and since then has been terrifying audiences for over 3 decades making it the 2nd longest-running play in history after Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap". Though many have tried to replicate the sheer terror The Woman in Black creates on stage, no other show has come close. It is widely considered the benchmark of live horror.
On nightly at 8pm until 19th June
2pm Matinee Sunday 19th
Masked Productions
The Woman In Black
Pumphouse Theatre
Killarney Park
Bookings here