After continuously hearing about the success of this play (and fairly recent film) from multiple patrons over the years, I was excited to finally see what all the fuss was about. West End audience’s have been freaking for this show since the 80s, so another point to Danny Feldman for plugging this American tour into the Pasadena Playhouse season, scheduled just in time for Halloween shenanigans.
For this opening night I was happily joined by my favorite Pasadenian, Ben, the art teacher/musical theatre composer I met outside the Mark Taper forum almost three years ago now. Man how time flies. Ben also likes this kind of “old-world”/spooky content, so I’m glad he was there for the ride. Plus he loves the Playhouse and lives like four blocks away.
As soon as I sat down and noticed Michael Holt’s eerie, rustic set, I noted that the era in which the story takes place was very well-suited to this gorgeous, historic, 100 year old venue. Also, note that this venue has been rumored to have ghosts of its own, but then again…what theater doesn’t? I don’t know what I was expecting, but I was surprised that there were only two characters in the play, especially with all the thrills that lie ahead. Ben and I were definitely shocked and amazed by this book turned play’s brilliantly executed twists and turns. And it’s not tons of special effects or scary imagery that makes you jump in your seat; they use elementary theatre magic to get you there in the most clever of ways. I quite enjoyed the play’s return to the basics of modern drama and theatricality and the way the characters shaped the story. It was a unique quasi-meta theatre approach that made the show more tangible/personable for audience members, and probably a tad less terrifying. I also liked that it was a story about processing trauma, and using art to get through something one might be struggling with emotionally or mentally. I’ve noticed myself doing that a lot this year, and it’s proved effective.
I know that’s not a ton of information but I really don’t want to give much away. I’ll just say, you might never be so spooked in a theatre, so check it out Stephen Mallatratt’s adaptation of Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black running at the Pasadena Playhouse through Sunday November 11th. A friend of mine said her friend refused to join her for the show because she heard it was too scary. It’s not. It’s just scary enough. So don’t let that scare you ; )