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Staggering Stories Podcast #329: Evil, Evil Monkey
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sun, 01 Dec 2019 10:31

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Andy Simpkins, Fake Keith and the Real Keith Dunn review Doctor Who: The Curse of Fenric as seen at the BFI and the first four episodes of the BBC’s His Dark Materials, find some general news, and a variety of other stuff, specifically: 00:00 – Intro and theme tune. 01:26 — […]


Staggering Stories Podcast #328: Flappy Chronovores and Cyborg Policemen
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sun, 17 Nov 2019 09:00

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Fake Keith, Jean Riddler and the Real Keith Dunn review Doctor Who: The Time Monster and the 1987 film Robocop, play a game, find some general news, and a variety of other stuff, specifically: 00:00 – Intro and theme tune. 00:34 — Welcome! 02:02 – News: 02:16 — Doctor Who: Ace […]


Staggering Stories Podcast #327: Insanity Breeding
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sun, 03 Nov 2019 09:00

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Andy Simpkins, Fake Keith, Jean Riddler and the Real Keith Dunn review Big Finish’s Doctor Who: Dust Breeding and the 2019 film Joker, discuss their visit to the Panopticon Lite Doctor Who convention, find some general news, and a variety of other stuff, specifically: 00:00 – Intro and theme tune. 00:49 […]


Staggering Stories Podcast #326: Do You Want to be a Hero?
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sun, 20 Oct 2019 09:00

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Fake Keith and the Real Keith Dunn review Doctor Who: Revenge of the Cybermen and the 1986 film Biggles, find some general news, and a variety of other stuff, specifically: 00:00 – Intro and theme tune. 01:04 — Welcome! 02:00 – News: 02:13 — Doctor Who: Is the Doctor now a […]


Staggering Stories Podcast #325: He’ll Save Every One of Us
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sun, 06 Oct 2019 09:00

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Andy Simpkins, Fake Keith, Jean Riddler, the Real Keith Dunn and Steven Clare review the Big Finish boxset Doctor Who: The Legacy of Time and the 1980 film Flash Gordon, find some general news, and a variety of other stuff, specifically: 00:00 – Intro and theme tune. 00:59 — Welcome! 01:57 […]


Staggering Stories Podcast #324: Having a Carnival Row
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 09:00

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Andy Simpkins, Fake Keith, Jean Riddler and the Real Keith Dunn review the Doctor Who: Planet of the Spiders audiobook and Amazon’s Carnival Row TV series, discuss the recent BFI Doctor Who event, find some general news, and a variety of other stuff, specifically: 00:00 – Intro and theme tune. 00:45 […]

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Odd Event Reviews... The Woman In Black

A review written from beneath a duvet with every light in the house blazing.
By Karen Dunn


The Woman in Black

I GOT to know a complete stranger very well during the second act of The Woman In Black at the Fortune Theatre, Covent Garden.

No, we didn’t pass the time chatting while people in the surrounding rows ‘shushed’ us in impatient tones before reporting us to the usher and having us thrown out.

We did, though, almost leap into each other’s arms on more than one occasion and smiled sheepishly at one another when the play finished. And all this with Keith sitting on one side and her daughter sitting on the other.

I shall explain.

The Woman In Black is the most ridiculously scary play I have ever seen. More scary than Alison Hannigan’s performance in When Harry Met Sally. More terrifying than William Shatner’s solo readings of Henry IV, V and VI (with props), and more frightening than those musical episodes of DS9 that proved once and for all that Paramount had lost the plot.

The first act is a little slow, but then it is mainly scene-setting, and I don’t think my heart could have taken an entire 2 hours of terror. (As Son Number 2 has pointed out ‘you’re nearly 40 now, mum, and that’s really, really old’. Bastard!)

There are only two names on the cast list - Michael Burrell as Arthur Kipps and Dominic Marsh as The Actor - and both are outstanding, especially Burrell, whose range of characters during the performance was huge.

There is a third member of the cast, though her name doesn’t appear in the programme and she doesn’t take a bow at the end. And that’s part of what makes the play so gripping.

It is actually set in the Fortune Theatre and the actors play to one another and an imaginary audience. Within the confines of the theatre, they imagine themselves to be in a London office, a northern village and a tiny island cut off from the main land except for a causeway, which makes itself known at low tide.

The set is simple and dark, the props few and used for many and varied a purpose. And the use of light and sound is amazing.

For those who haven’t read the book or seen the film, this is a ghost story with a particularly nasty ghost - whenever she is seen, a child dies.

Solicitor Arthur Kipps is sent to close the estate of an elderly client who has recently died. She lived alone in a sprawling house on the island and only ever had two visitors - Keckwick, the local pony and trap man, and the Woman In Black.

Arthur’s time at the house plays on our fears of the unknown and things half seen from the corner of the eye and is so much more effective than the blood and gore that makes up so many run-of-the-mill horrors.

The audience was a mass of tense anticipation, the slightest pause in the dialogue bringing frightened whispers. And when the Woman did make herself known, either in fleeting glimpses or full howling fury, the poor souls at the front were all but trying to climb through their seats into the row behind.

Not a show for those of a nervous disposition or weak bladder, but definitely worth a look. Hurry, though, the run ends in September, having been going since 1989.


For those interested in seeing the play at the Fortune Theatre in London, cheapthreatretickets.com may be worth a visit.