Posted on 11 March 2011

The spooky Susan Hill  Victorian set novel is already a hit West End play so get Woman In Black tickets first at the Fortune Theatre before seeing it on the big screen from 28th October in the adaption by Kick Ass scribe Jane Goldman starring wizard Daniel Radcliffe playing young lawyer Arthur Kipps, a father and widower who encounters the ghost of a scorned woman while on business in a remote village.  The film also stars veteran thesps Ciaran Hinds and Janet McTeer

This isn't the first adaption of the novel published in 1983.  The stage play was first performed at the Stephen Joseph Theatre-In-The-Round in Scarborough in 1987. It was very well received and moved to The Fortune Theatre in the West End in 1989 where it still runs today, as well as currently being on a UK National Tour. The stage play is notable for having a very small cast, but it remains a popular play.

In this version, an older Kipps enlists a young actor to help him tell the story of the 'Woman in Black', hoping that this will help him to move on from those events and exorcise the ghost. The actor plays the part of the young Arthur Kipps while Kipps plays the roles of the people he met. The play adds the twist that the actress playing the Woman in Black in the recreation of the events was the real Woman in Black.

In 1989, the story was adapted ITV television movie. The production starred Adrian Rawlins as Arthur Kidd (not Kipps), Bernard Hepton as Sam Toovey (not Sam Daily) and Pauline Moran in a chilling performance as The Woman in Black and there have been two BBC radio adaptations in 1993 and 2001.
The Woman In Black was the first ghost story Susan Hill wrote in the 6 week summer holidays as she wanted to challenge herself to write a full length Victorian ghost story as mostly there are only short stories that have been written.  She began by making a list of essential ‘ingredients.’ These included:

1 A haunted place. A lonely house or church

2. Atmosphere

3. Weather – fog or mist, dusk, twilight, drizzle...

4. A ghost – not as silly as it sounds. The ghost story is not necessarily a horror story and it must have a ghost, which is defined as the spirit of someone now dead which looks as they looked in life and which is seen by people still living.

5. The ghost must have a purpose – that seemed essential. There has to be a motive for the hauntings. It is not very interesting if a dark-robed monk walks through walls or a veiled lady drifts up and down a staircase frightening people but doing nothing much else and without any reason or purpose.
The book started out modestly but then it had a stroke of luck. Actor/author Stephen Mallatratt picked it up at the airport bookshop en route for a Greek holiday. He was looking for something to adapt as a play to go on in the small studio theatre at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough at Christmas and lying on the Greek beach, he had a brilliant idea about to make my ghost story work onstage.

The rest is history.

The Woman in Black is celebrating 22 years in the West End in June 2011.  Over these years, it is estimated that 7 million people have seen THE WOMAN IN BLACK either in the West End or in the many cities it has visited up and down the UK.


Book discounted Woman In Black tickets online now!

[posted by Louise, 11/03/2011]