BWW Review: THE WOMAN IN BLACK at the Seattle Rep Will Send a Chill Up Your Spine
Are you in the mood for a good scare? A creepy tale that will stay with you all the way home and make you turn on every light once you get there. No? Then you'd better stay away from the Seattle Rep and their current production of "The Woman in Black" on tour from London. Sure, this production has plenty of giggles and lighter moments but there's also a severe creep factor and several moments to make you jump out of your chair.
Based on Susan Hill's novel as adapted by Stephen Mallatratt we are greeted by Arthur Kipps (Bradley Armacost), a meek, no-nonsense man preparing to tell those who would listen about the most harrowing few days of his life. The days in which, as a young solicitor as he was attempting to settle the estate of a mysterious recluse, he encountered a malevolent spirit that would haunt him forever. But not being much of a storyteller, Mr. Kipps has hired an actor (Nick Vidal in the performance I attended) to help with the presentation. The actor takes Kipps through the tale taking out the superfluous bits and takes on the role of Kipps while Kipps takes on the roles of everyone else within the tale, and off we go.
Mallatratt as well as director Robin Herford beautifully amp up the story bit by bit as we begin with getting the real Mr. Kipps more and more used to performing until by the end it's just a smooth performance. This storytelling convention lulls the audience into a false sense of security so they can take us for a ride. And they do it so well, especially with the stunning lighting design from Kevin Sleep and horrifying sound design from Ron Mead and Gareth Owen.
As I said, we saw Nick Vidal as the Actor the night I was there, who's listed as the "Standby". Nothing on Standby for Mr. Vidal as he owned that stage. He carried that show beautifully and held the entire audience in rapt attention. As did Mr. Armacost who took on the lion's share of the characters keeping each one wonderfully individualistic and integral yet being able to switch back to Kipps on a dime in the height of the emotion. And with this level of emotion, it's almost impossible to believe that there were only two actors on stage conveying the story.
So, if you like things that go bump in the night and don't mind a good yelp in the middle of a theater, then this one could be for you. And so, with my three-letter rating system I give the production of "The Woman in Black" at the Seattle Rep a "scare the pants right off you" YAY. And if anyone tries to tell you the Woman in Black didn't make them jump at least once during the show, they're a liar whose face is bald. Win is what this show does.