Review: The Woman In Black (Lower Ossington Theatre)

Fear takes hold in the classic The Woman in Black playing at Toronto’s Lower Ossington Theatre

I have to admit, I was skeptical about seeing The Woman In Black, adapted by Stephen Mallatratt, at the Lower Ossington Theatre. The Woman In Black is an eerie ghost story about a woman who haunts a remote British village. The story is inspired by Susan Hill’s novel, and has been adapted into two films: 1989 and 2012.

I had already seen the new adaptation. The movie really creeped me out, mostly due to the subtle effects. Naturally, not having a film budget or a computer effects team, I assumed the play was going to pale in comparison. I became more confident in my theory as the first act began at a slow pace, with protagonist Mr. Kipps and an actor discussing the importance of showmanship. This play couldn’t scare me. I was sure of it.

Dear God, I was so wrong.

This play made my blood pressure skyrocket. My fingers kept reaching towards my ears to prevent me from screaming in surprise at a ghostly noise. My eyes looked around wildly at the stage. It was all my plus-one and I could talk about for the rest of the night. And embarrassingly, it managed to inspire some nightmares later on.

I would love the give the three actors credit for their ability to pull me into the story. Andrei Preda as Kipps and Adrian Griffiths credited as “Actor” were able to throw me into the horror, but also take me back to a state of suspicious calm. Of course, the most impressive performance is the woman in black by Claire Alcott. Alcott may have barely spoken, but her presence was palpable.

But the most credit must be given to the sound and lighting designers J.T Pickering and Chris Malkowski. The stage would be plunged into complete darkness so that the woman in black could lurk unseen. A fog machine would slowly blow thick wisps down from the ceiling. My eyes kept frantically scanning the stage, but without much success.

Kipps and the Actor drew attention to the magic of sound in the theatre, showing how an audience can be transported from a basic stage to a roaring London street. This was an obvious nod to the production, because the sound effects transported me to a complete state of paranoia.

If you are in the mood for a good scare. Or if you are also confident that a play can’t give you nightmares, you should go ahead and test your theory. I thought the same thing and left the theatre shaken and feeling like a fool.

Details:

  • The Woman In Black is playing at the Studio Theatre at Lower Ossington Theatre (100 A Ossington)
  • The show runs from October 31 to December 1st, Thursday to Saturday at 8:00 pm, matinee Saturday at 2:00pm, Sunday at 4:00pm.
  • Tickets range from $39-$49. Tickets can be purchased in person, by phone 416-915-6747 or online.