Monday, March 27, 2017

Review of WildClaw Theatre's The Woman in Black

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Woman in Black. It was by Steven Mallatratt, based on the book by Susan Hill, and it was directed by Elly Green. It was about a man named Mr. Kipps (Robert Koon) who was trying to stop a curse that has been following him for years. So he hires an actor (Priyank Thakkar) to reenact Mr Kipps' past experiences. It is about facing your fears, paranormal activity, and terror. This is such a chilling show! I really loved it.

The first thing that you see is Mr. Kipps and the actor playing around with the first lines of the story that Mr. Kipps has written to help him overcome what the Woman in Black has done to him. The actor has come to teach him how to perform a compelling story. The first scene I think is quite funny because it is Mr. Kipps' first attempt at performing his story and he is reading it like it is A Christmas Carol. The actor is trying to get him to really perform the story and put his heart into it, but Mr. Kipps is scared to talk about this subject. Each time Kipps reads the first lines, it gets more cheesy and actor-ly, and I thought that was funny to see the actor who is coaching him get more and more annoyed with Kipps. But this isn't the plan they end up doing in the end because Mr. Kipps has the actor play Mr. Kipps as a young man and Mr. Kipps plays all of the people he meets along his journey. Mr. Kipps does end up being a good actor, maybe overdramatic at times because the people he is playing are dramatic. The play gets more intense as it goes on, so this first scene is vital because you get to see the relationship between Mr. Kipps and the actor before any of the creepy stuff starts happening.

There were a lot of really chilling moments. I saw the movie and I thought it was scary, but this was scarier because everything was so up-close. Whenever anything terrifying happened it felt like it could reach out and get you. I feel like the set (designed by John Wilson) added a lot to the entire experience. Even before you get into the theater you are slightly scared that something is going to jump out at you because there is this long corridor with red curtains and lamps and you don't know what is behind the red curtains. When you get into the theater you see all these mirrors and torn-up wallpaper and also a really old-fashioned stage and a door on the stage that looks very ominous for some reason--it just seems like something could come out of there or there is something you don't want to see behind that door. But the first time something really surprises you it is from behind you which is very unexpected and a good jump scare. Also they had a coat rack on stage that scared me sometimes because I thought it was a person. It gives you a short moment of thinking things are different than they are. And the mirrors reflect what is happening on stage, but sometimes you catch it out of the corner of your eye and you think that there is someone moving next to you. I thought the sound (designed by Sarah D. Espinosa) was really scary because it seemed to come from different part of the theater. It made you very alert. I thought it was super cool how they had gas lamps (lighting design by Emma Deane) around the stage and they would flicker occasionally, but not so often that you knew when it was coming which it made it all the better. I liked all the technical elements of this show; I thought they melded together very well to make a chilling experience.

One of my favorite moments was when the younger Mr. Kipps played by the actor was exploring the house and he walked into a room whose door had been locked the time before when he'd been there. And the door throws itself open and he sees a child's room and there is a rocking chair rocking back and forth. I loved this moment in the movie as well. I think it is so visually stimulating and just gives you goosebumps. It is so creepy because it takes something that you usually feel comfortable with and makes you not feel comfortable because it feels so empty. There is another point in the show where they use empty space but it does make you feel more comforted. They only use sound to represent a dog named Spider who is there to keep the younger Mr. Kipps company in the house. You know where the dog is because of where the actors are petting and looking and where the sound is coming from. You know the dog is adorable because of how much love Mr. Kipps is showing to Spider. The dog is very happy and energetic, but once anything paranormal starts happening it immediately goes into action mode and that is how you know something is happening. You kind of get a warning. You feel like the dog is protecting Mr. Kipps and you.

People who would like this show are people who like rocking chairs, invisible dogs, and being scared by coat racks. I think that people should definitely go see this show. It is super fun and creepy and I absolutely loved it.

Photos: Clark Bender

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