Russell Street, London
From: 7 June 1989
Booking to: 26 September 2020
Buy tickets:Buy tickets online
Nearest Tube: Covent Garden
Monday no show
Tuesday at 3.00pm and 8.00pm
Wednesday at 8.00pm
Thursday at 3.00pm and 8.00pm
Friday at 8.00pm
Saturday at 4.00pm and 8.00pm
Sunday no show
Runs 1 hour and 50 minutes
£? to £?
(plus booking fees if applicable)
The acclaimed stage version of Susan Hill's thriller The Woman in Black in London - now in it's 26th year in the West End!
A lawyer is obsessed with the belief that he and his family have been cursed by the Woman in Black. In an attempt to exorcise the evil, he engages a sceptical young actor to help him tell his terrifying story. It all begins innocently enough, but then, as the story begins to unfold, the borders between memory and reality begin to blur and the flesh begins to creep...
One of the most exciting, gripping and successful theatre events ever staged. Unanimously acclaimed by the critics, Stephen Mallatratt's adaptation of Susan Hill's bestselling novel combines the power and intensity of live theatre with a cinematic quality inspired by the world of film noir. Adapted for the stage from the novel by Susan Hill by Stephen Mallatratt and directed by Robin Hereford.
"Ever since The Woman in Black opened more than 20 years ago, it has produced sounds - gasps, squeals, shudders, muffled screams - that are rarely heard in the stalls... The theatre - most fleshy of art forms - is remarkably effective at conveying the spectral. Watching this, with the deliciousness of shared fear, it seems amazing that so few attempts are made to scare audiences. The genius of Stephen Mallatratt's adaptation of Susan Hill's 1983 novel is that it dares you not to believe in it. It doesn't try to mimic reality; it is diametrically opposed to the special effect... It magnifies fear by showing the terror on an actor's face: fright is contagious. It gives fear another dimension, for like all really good ghost stories The Woman in Black is grounded not in horror but in human pain and loss. The whole world, as contained in an auditorium, becomes threatening." The Observer 2012
The Woman in Black was originally commissioned by the play's director Robin Hereford in 1987: "In late summer of 1987, I was Artistic Director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, home of Alan Ayckbourn and his company. Ayckbourn himself was in London at the National Theatre on a two-year sabbatical, which provided me with the opportunity of running the theatre in his stead. For the final production of the season, I wanted to mount a play to run over Christmas in the theatre's seventy-seater studio auditorium, but I had only a very small amount of money left in my production budget and enough wages to pay for only four actors.
I tentatively approached my friend and resident playwright Stephen Mallatratt with a commission to write a play for the occasion, having due regard for my financial restrictions. I wanted a ghost story, and he could either adapt an existing tale or create an original one. After a day or two's thought, he suggested he might adapt Susan Hill's novel The Woman in Black.
I read the book, and was immediately impressed by its evocative power, but it had one drawback - a list of characters numbering about a dozen. Stephen seemed unperturbed, and proceeded to write me a two-handed play which not only solved my budgetary problems, but actually developed and enhanced the original premise of Susan's story. The production pleased audiences in Scarborough, and, a year later, I directed the first London production at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith. The critics were kind to us, and as a result the play transferred to the Strand, then the Playhouse, and finally to the Fortune Theatre, where it has now been running for over fifteen years.
Little did I imagine that my cut-price stocking-filler from Scarborough would still be running in the West End, but on reflection it is the very economy of the production which is the chief reason for its continued success. Had I access to a more generous budget, providing the playwright with the potential for a larger cast and more lavish settings, we could have been in grave danger of losing the essential simplicity and innate theatricality with which we currently tell our story."
The Woman in Black in London opened at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre on 17 January 1989, closed 11 February 1989, transferred to the Novello Theatre from 15 February to 1 April 1989, transferred to the Playhouse Theatre from 18 April to 3 June 1989 and then transferred to the Fortune Theatre from 7 June 1989.