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Getting intimate with the Woman in Black
By Rebecca Wicks

I first saw this play on my 18th birthday. My ex boyfriend had seen it a few years before and insisted we travel all the way from Lincoln to London to watch the only thing that had ever scared him into nights of sleepless torture. He was quite hard, my ex boyfriend.

Nice, I thought. What a way to celebrate my birthday. But always one to embrace an adventure I thought a weekend in London would be fun. Sure, why not, let’s go watch a ghost story.

Adapted from the novel by Susan Hill, there are no songs, no dances, hardly any special effects, and only two actors in the entire play. But of course, the Woman in Black hasn’t earned its right to a West End stage for the past 20 years, for simply being a mediocre production. This is theatre at its best and most powerful. Think back to when you were tiny, when the honest, humbling effects of human emotion and the art of telling a good story were all you ever needed to keep you gripping your chair.

The good thing here too, is that the play’s downsizing from large London stage to the Madinat, doesn’t matter one bit. In fact, the smaller theatre does this play justice. It’s more intimate somehow, being closer to the action, rather like sitting round a campfire, leaning in together, waiting for the moment when you’re made to jump.

In case you’re not familiar with the story, Eel Marsh House stands isolated, somewhere on England's bleak, windy and altogether dreary east coast. Here, a lady called Mrs. Alice Drablow lived and died, alone. Young solicitor, Arthur Kipps is ordered by his firm to travel to the house, attend her funeral and sort out all of her papers, and of course, all manner of banging shutters, mysterious creaks and terrifying draughts threaten his peace and quiet� not to mention a young woman with a wasted face, dressed entirely in black. Who is she? Why is she there? No one seems to know, and as her presence grows stronger, Kipps can only wait for the woman to reveal her horrible purpose.

Scared yet?

Apparently, this play has been seen by over three-million people. I for one have seen it three times now, which is only once more than I’ve seen my favourite musical of all time, Wicked, (sssssh). I have to say, as much as I enjoyed the shock value of seeing it for the first time, it’s just as creepy after the third. It’s always nice to be that quietly smug person who knows the ending and watches people jump out of their skin at the bits you know are coming up.

Luckily, the cast are true quality too � unlike with a few other shows we won’t name, mostly involving high schools, no expense has been spared in bringing this show to Dubai. David Seddon and James Clarkson bring all the suitable charm and spirit to the characters that their huge stage and screen experience should allow and the woman in black� whoever she is, remains the stuff your nightmares are made of. In a good way.

It’s not very often we get the chance to see real, proper, excellent, popular theatre here, so I’d say grab this opportunity while you can folks. Even if you have to take a spare pair of pants with you (eeek!)

THE WOMAN IN BLACK. MADINAT THEATRE.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai
28/29/30/31 January & 3/4/5/6 February at 8pm
29/30 January & 4/6 February 2009 at 2pm

Tickets: AED 160
Booking Hotline: 800-4669
Overseas customers call: +971 4 210 8567


Posted: 29 January 2009

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