This week, an eerie chill has descended onto Glasgow’s Theatre Royal. 

From renowned novel and star-studded movie to a theatre adaptation which made home London’s West End for 33 years and completed fourteen national tours, The Woman in Black needs no introduction.

It is not often a production truly deepens our appreciation for the power storytelling can have in theatre, however Stephen Mallatratt’s adaptation of the famous novel by Susan Hill uses an eclectic balance of theatre arts in lighting and sound to exercise our imaginations.

There are obvious limitations to bringing a story of this scale to the stage, known by many as a blockbuster packed with CGI special effects which simply cannot be matched on-stage.

However, these are swiftly overcome as the stage opens to an aged Mr Kipps (Malcolm James), reading his autobiographical accounts to the audience creating an instant sympathy towards him.

Kipps is joined by The Actor (Mark Hawkins) whom he has commissioned to bring his writing to life.

The Actor critiques his monotone approach but soon the comedic bond between the two blossoms, as does Mr Kipps’ stage presence as they rehearse- the ideal contrast to the harrowing experience they are beginning to delve into.

Michael Holt’s set is draped in grey gauze, the stage littered with a few chairs and woven trunk- a blank canvas rehearsal space which, with the help of our imagination, morphs into become a pony and trap, a solicitor’s office or a train carriage.

James Hawkins effortlessly slips from the enthused Actor and a willing young Mr Kipps, sent to sort the affairs of Mrs Drablow after her death. 

Within the simplistic set and aided by a rail of costume, Malcolm James takes on a variety of vivid supporting roles along Mr Kipps’ journey to Drablow’s Eel Marsh House.

Holt’s projections transport us to a churchyard as a darkened figure sweeps through the stalls and takes her place at Mrs Drablow’s funeral. Then, with a simple click of the fingers, we are back in the rehearsal room there are audible sighs throughout the audience.

We are drawn to the edge of our seats Kipps explores Eel Marsh House and a mysterious locked door is illuminated, dreading to know what is beyond it.

Kevin Sleep’s wonderful lighting design sweeps us between these changing environments, highlighting gravestones and locked doorswhich bring us closer to unravelling the spine-tingling tale of Eel Marsh house.

The lighting pairs with Sebastian Frost’s sound design has the audience enveloped and jumping from their seats at every critical moment in the ever-darkening tale of the Drablow family, as the tragic rumours of the Woman in Black unfurl before our eyes.

A powerhouse of storytelling and a feast for the imagination- The Woman in Black plays at the Theatre Royal until Saturday 30th March.

The Woman in Black at Theatre Royal, Glasgow until Saturday 30th March 2024, then touring