Arts & Entertainment

REVIEW: The Woman In Black

Garth Holcombe. Photo: Daniel Boud

The Woman In Black is a gothic mystery thriller set in and around a haunted house in the early 20th century. It is not the usual fare for the Ensemble Theatre where playwrights Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams and Neil Simon have always been the popular choice. Director of the Ensemble and of this play, Mark Kilmurray, has ventured into unknown territory with, The Woman In Black, and has given it the Ensemble touch. More a play within a play that celebrates the art of the two hander, this production, advertised as spine chilling, is more of a journey through the illusions and delusions of memory.

The main character, Arthur Kipps, (Jamie Oxenbould), consults an actor, (Garth Halcombe), rather than a therapist, to help him unlock the secret of the mysterious woman that haunts his dreams. So the art of storytelling takes centre stage through the eloquent word play of the actor bringing Kipps story to life in order to help him revisit and re-evaluate his memories of his experience. Kipps himself takes on many of the characters from his own story, to support the actor in the telling of it. As they bring the events to the audience, with Halcombe clicking his fingers at the lighting box to direct lighting and sound cues, the audience cannot forget for one moment that they are part of the play. The Woman In Black wanders in and out of the shadows and through the audience. Always present and always a mystery until the final unravelling. The story is really that of a woman, The Woman In Black. Both Kipps and the actor have been merely players.

All in all a wonderful night of theatre with eerie lighting by Trudie Dagleish, set against a minimalist stage design. The gauze scrim was particularly effective as were the random sound effects to complete the illusion.

Until July 24. Ensemble Theatre, 78 McDougall St, Kirribilli. $38-$79+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.ensemble.com.au

Reviewed by Renee Lou Dallow

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