On the 14th of September the Sexey’s School drama students went to The Fortune Theatre, London and saw the performance of ‘The Woman in Black’. The play was riveting to watch and made the audience scream on more than one occasion; it developed a great sense of tension and created a high level of anxiety in the audience. The plot of the play explored the horror of drama to its bitter ends and combined the power and intensity of live theatre with some of the best effects from cinematic horror shows. Although it was performed by the majority of only two men, Michael Mears and Orlando Wells, it was easy to follow character changes and the swapping between different roles.
The props and the general atmosphere that was created gave the stage and set a character of its own as the story reached its climax. The colours of the stage were dismal and gloomy and really helped to ‘set the scene’ and added to the atmosphere. Although there were not many stage props and they were quite basic, they were extremely effective; such as the wicker basket which was used to store paper files and a blanket.
Props and how the characters used space made it easy to recognise the character’s emotions and see which character had what status; such as the use of a hat could give a higher status. Space on stage was used to a good advantage considering there wasn’t much of it and the actors awareness of that space really showed. The actors used the stage with familiarity and confidence and this enhanced the production greatly because it gave the audience great security. An example of this would be right at the beginning when Mr. Kipps trips over some metal buckets when he is walking backwards.
The actors wore authentic late Victorian dress and costumes changed to suit changing characters with an open use of clothes rail. The Actor wore a slim brown tie, a pinstriped suit, a white shirt with a waistcoat and the colours of these garments were in dark colours. The older man, Mr Kipps, became different characters by changing his costumes such as wearing different coats and hats, change from black suit, adding a scarf, wearing a brown trench coat and swapping a black hat from a brown hat. The costumes gave a good effect because they were all in dull, dismal colors and really complemented the sets period; they also added a sense of maturity to the characters.
The stage was split into two by a gauze which stretched from one side to the other when it was lit from front it became opaque and when it was lit from behind it became transparent. This meant that the gauze concealed the bedroom/nursery behind unopenable/locked door. The gauze also allowed the opportunity for backstage crew to change the set for example the nursery tidy to untidy in matter of minutes. The gauze added scare to the audience because it could flash between visible/concealment in moments. The gauze had a ghostly effect and was a spooky grey. It blended into the rest of the stage really well and was a good idea because it looked effective as a back drop but also hid the ‘second room’.
Behind the gauze there were steps, which were made to look like stairs on a house. This was an imaginative feature because there was no top floor but gave the effect that there was. The stage and props were very realistic and believable, which increased the horror and fear. On the CSL there was a door which was used to create suspense because you did not know what was behind it or what would come through it; the actors were really able to use it effectively. For instance when Mr. Kipps hears noises behind the door, he decides to go and see what it is and slowly creeps up to the door and suddenly it quickly swings open and causes the audience to jump.
The cast showed a range of acting skills such as body language, facial epression and use of voice. The acting was believeable which made a clever story that was full of surprises and suspense, become real. The acting was very naturalistic. The majority of the play was acted by only two men and this meant they had to multi-role. This required experienced dramatic technique. Use of voice was played with and each character had a significantly different accent or way in which they spoke. The actors managed to define and exaggerate these differences so that characters each had their own identity in voice as well as how they looked. An example would be when Mr. Kipps does not understand how his acting is not very interesting, but when he gets given some reading glasses he really gets into his character and the acting of being a different person. Facial expressions helped back up the lines and acting.
The Actors voice is fast, nervous, panicky, high pitched which influences audience to be scared. His facial gestures show fear through wide eyes and mouth open an example of this would be when looking into the mist with confused eyes. His facial expressions also make the audience feel sorry for him when he is in the house through his silent nerves as his face stretches and frowns. The acting is naturalistic but also uses a sense of imagination an example of this would be when he pretended there was a dog in the marsh scene; he did this by bending down with his arms open.