Theatre is a form of therapy and horror is a form of release – taking us to the outer unexplored edges of our minds. Terror and theatre can unleash internal beasts we’d like to ignore. But ignore them and suffer the consequences.
The Keegan Theatre’s production of The Woman in Black will take you to the edge, throw you to the ground and then drag you further. The second longest running play in the West End, Stephen Mallatrat’s adaption of The Woman in Black, a 1983 horror novel by Susan Hill, adds the layer of a play within a play.
Robert Leembruggen plays Mr. Kipps, a man who has faced unspeakable horrors (“Those that suffer the worst say the least”). Working with a young actor played by Matthew Keenan, Kipps hopes that performing his story for an audience of close friends and family will put his past and “the ghost of the woman in black” at rest.
In Kipps’s play, Keenan (The Actor) plays a young Mr. Kipps as a solicitor called away to attend the funeral of a woman named Alice Drablow in a secluded small town in England, and Mr. Kipps plays all of the townspeople that he encountered years ago. Young Kipps hears of “legends,” but no one will elaborate. Are these silly stories merely entertainment for bored and “unsophisticated” country-folk, or is something too hideous to speak out loud buried beneath the surface?
The Woman in Black
Closes November 30, 2013
1742 Church Street, NW
Tickets: $30 – $35
Tuesdays thru Sundays
The Keegan Theatre is halfway to its goal of $4 million to begin renovations. While certainly worthy of a top-tier facility, the old squeaking seats and frigid air match the chilling and unsettling action onstage. Unintentional pairing, but effective.
The combination of Michael Innocenti’s lighting and Tony Angelini’s sound clips of shrill screams and flashbacks visually and aurally transport the audience into a horror film. I had expected suspense à la Hitchcock but left afraid to sleep with the lights out. Innocenti and Angelini make this production. Thanks for the nightmares.
The Keegan Theatre’s production of The Woman in Black is teeth-chattering terrifying. Colin Smith and Mark A. Rhea’s vision extends beyond inducing screams. I would compare The Woman in Black to a Dickens novel, but Mr. Kipps made it clear that no such comparison was to be made (“There is no Miss Havisham here.”) These horrors are too real and devastating to be relayed – you’ll have to go see them for yourself.
The Woman in Black by Stephen Mallatratt . Directed by Colin Smith and Mark A. Rhea . Featuring Matthew Keenan and Robert Leembruggen . Lighting design: Michael Innocenti . Sound design: Tony Angelini . Scenic design: Carol H. Baker and Colin Smith . Costume design: Kelly Peacock . Stage manager: Dan Dieter. Produced by Keegan Theatre . Reviewed by Rebecca Evans.