Royal George Theatre Hosts THE WOMAN IN BLACK Review – A Chilling Tour de Force

PW Productions and Pemberly Productions THE WOMAN IN BLACK

A man wakes from his slumber in a dusty and paper-filled office, leaning up from his makeshift bed to listen more closely. Some rumbling is coming from a far away upstairs room. He checks with his dog to make sure he's alright, then slowly rises and starts the long trek through the manor. The scrim that was once the wall of the office becomes transparent, and shows through a misty lens the man walking up the stairs with trepidation along a series of tall, arched windows. Through them, one sees the pale moon and star, but they are not shining brightly enough to relieve what is pure suspense. Suddenly, he is at the door to the upstairs room, having appeared from seemingly nowhere. A a yellow beam of light defines the hallway, and the scarlet door beckons. He approaches slowly, the rumbling and groaning coming from inside growing louder and more violent until…

If there are no Goldstar Discounts when you click here, make sure to check the Royal George Theatre Website to find out the full-price ticket availability.

Royal George Theatre Richochets Panic

The Woman in Black has been terrifying London audiences for many a year now, and the production has finally made it's way to the Windy City The plot revolves around a man's assignment to visit a deceased client's mansion on an isle to help in the efforts to clear up her affairs, and review any documents she may have left behind. Despite the fervent warnings from every townsperson he meets, the man goes, and veritable horror ensues, the details of which this reviewer will dare not divulge any further. Fans of the movie adaptation with Daniel Radcliffe will also find greater depth in this telling of the Woman in Black tale. This is most definitely a scary show, and those who are not interested in being shocked, surprised, disgusted, or simply resting at a low level of paranoia and fear for two hours and five minutes, should stay home. However, fans of Crimson Peak, Turn of the Screw, or even Hound of the Baskervilles will all find something to satisfy their spooky itch.

PW Productions and Pemberly Productions THE WOMAN IN BLACK
PW Productions and Pemberly Productions THE WOMAN IN BLACK

Rich Characterizations

The story is dark, epic, and gothic, but told from a very simple place. The man, years later, is preparing to tell his story to his family, friends, and others, through a public lecture of sorts, with the help of a hired actor/public speaking coach. Though he insists that his story shouldn't stray into dramatization, some recorded sound and lighting effects soon convince him otherwise. There are two actors in the show only, with the older man playing all of the other characters and the coach playing the older man in his younger days, exploring the house for the first time; they are in top form. The man, played in his later years by Bradley Armacost, not only fully inhabits the people from his past, with simply a pair of glasses or a cap covering his face, but shows us the deep turmoil and sadness that he is enduring telling this terrible story that has affected him for so long. The actor, played by Adam Wesley Brown is no less talented and precise in his execution. Examples enough should be that in the introduction of a dog, Spider, that was completely imagined by the actors, he convinced everyone that it was real, simply in the way he reacted to and interacted with it. The commitment on both of their parts in this writer’s view, is insurmountable.

PW Productions and Pemberly Productions THE WOMAN IN BLACK

Suspend Your Expectations

The most tantalizing and simultaneously terrifying aspect of this production is that nothing is what it seems. The set starts out unassumingly as a dusty old curtain, a woven basket trunk, some chairs, a stool, and some old furniture covered in sheets. By the end of the show, the sheets are both literally and metaphorically pulled away, revealing a complex and brilliantly creative collaboration between every part of the design team. Throughout the show, the audience is transported into a bog in a foggy marsh, a causeway through the ocean under a blanket of starlight, and a joyous street festival, not through extravagant efforts, but organic and genius stagecraft. The audience is asked to suspend their disbelief, and this humble reviewer is extremely glad he did.

Highly Recommended

Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.

Cast:

Bradley Armacost
Adam Wesley Brown

Creative:

Robin Herford
Michael Holt
Kevin Sleep
Rod Mead
Gareth Own
Laura Stancyzk CSA
Eva Breneman
Anshuman Bhatia
Magdalene Spanuello
kClare McKellaston
Ray Nardelli
David A Loranca
Annie Zaruba-Walker
Time SMith
Andrew D Hamingson

Where:

Royal George Theatre
1641 N Halsted St.
Chicago, IL

When:

Nov. 18th thru Feb. 17th
Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sundays at 7:00 pm. Saturdays & Sundays at 2pm.

If there are no Goldstar Discounts when you click here, make sure to check the Royal George Theatre Website to find out the full-price ticket availability.

If there are no Goldstar Discounts when you click here, make sure to check the Royal George Theatre Website to find out the full-price ticket availability.

For more information please visit Royal George Theatre Website

All photos by Roger Mastroianni

Note: Picture This Post reviews are excerpted by Theatre in Chicago

NATE HALL
Nate Hall Photo: Jeff Day

About the Author

Nate is an actor/composer/playwright currently based in Chicago, and originally from Los Alamos, New Mexico. He is the first graduate of Texas Tech's BFA Musical Theatre program, and has been acting for over six years, performing in the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival and Santa Fe Musical Festival, among others. His plays have been featured in one act/ten-minute play festivals, and his musical Fade Out had it's first reading in December 2017.

See his current work at actornatehall.wordpress.com or on Facebook

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