Prepare to be terrified – The Woman in Black is back

ONE of the most chilling thrillers ever written, Susan Hill’s ghost story The Woman in Black, returns to Bath Theatre Royal from Monday 11th to Saturday 16th March, on a national tour, direct from a 33-year West End run

Stephen Mallatratt’s brilliant and atmospheric stage adaptation, directed by Robin Herford, stars Malcolm James as the elderly solicitor, Arthur Kipps, and Mark Hawkins as The Actor. The stage play is entirely true to the book, using much of Susan Hill’s own descriptions and dialogue, while transforming the novel into a totally gripping piece of theatre.

Obsessed with a curse that he believes has been cast over him and his family by the spectre of a ‘woman in black’, Kipps engages a sceptical young actor to help him tell his story and exorcise the fear that grips his soul. It begins innocently enough, as the two men act out the solicitor’s experiences on Eel Marsh all those years ago. But as they reach further into his darkest memories, they find themselves caught up in a world of eerie marshes, moaning winds and tragic secrets and the border between make-believe and reality blurs.

Malcolm James has played Arthur Kipps in the “West End and on tour. His other theatre credits include The Mousetrap in the West End and Volpone at the National Theatre. His screen credits include EastEnders, Doctors, Coronation Street and The Bill. He previously appeared at Bath Theatre Royal in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, The Portrait of a Lady and A Doll’s House in The Peter Hall Company’s 2008 Season, Birdsong in 2013 and The Two Popes in 2022.

Mark Hawkins first played The Actor in The Woman in Black at the Fortune Theatre in the West End. His theatre credits include The Railway Children at London’s Kings Cross Theatre, Julius Caesar at The Globe, the UK tour of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and an international tour of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. His television credits include HBO’s The Nevers and ITV’s Vera.

The Woman in Black has been seen by more than seven million people in the UK, with more than 13,000 performances in the West End over 33 years, and many national tours. This is the 11th time the play has been performed at Bath. The production has also enjoyed huge success across the world; it has been translated into at least 12 languages and performed – at the last count – in 42 countries.

Stephen Mallatratt (1947-2004) wrote his early plays while working as an actor in Alan Ayckbourn’s Scarborough company. Robin Herford has worked extensively with Alan Ayckbourn, joining Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre in 1976 as an actor, after training at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. He was appointed associate director in 1979 and was artistic director from 1986 to 1988 – during this time he commissioned Stephen Mallatratt to adapt The Woman in Black, which he directed. Robin personally directs every recast and has also directed and performed in The Woman in Black abroad. The production is designed by Michael Holt with lighting by Kevin Sleep.

Dame Susan Hill’s many novels also include I’m the King of the Castle, Strange Meeting, In the Springtime of the Year, The Mist in the Mirror, and Mrs De. Winter, a sequel to Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. Her books have won the Whitbread Fiction Award, the Somerset Maugham Award and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and been shortlisted for The Booker Prize. The 2012 film adaptation of The Woman in Black starred Daniel Radcliffe, and was the highest grossing British horror film in 20 years.

Photographs by Mark Drouet.