The Woman In Black – Review – Bradford Alhambra

The Woman In Black – Review – Bradford Alhambra (1)

By Christine Goode, February 2024

On a chilly, wet, and windy evening, we make our way to Bradford Alhambra. It sets the perfect atmosphere for one of the most captivating ghost story plays, The Woman In Black. Originally written by Susan Hill in 1983, the book was adapted for the stage by Stephen Mallatratt and, in 1989, was made into a film, with a second adaptation of this a gothic supernatural horror made in 2012, starring Daniel Radcliffe.

Having previously watched both the stage play and the film, it was time to revisit this iconic theatrical performance. As we take our seats, I apologise in advance to the lady sitting next to me, explaining I do not have nerves of steel and am likely to jump!

The Woman In Black – Review – Bradford Alhambra (2)


It is an outstanding production featuring just two actors who skilfully narrate the spine-chilling tale. The play, framed as a story within a story, revolves around a young solicitor, Arthur Kipps, played by Malcolm James, who enlists the help of an actor, portrayed by Mark Hawkins, who takes us on a terrifying journey recalling his unsettling experience. A now older Kipps hires the actor to help him overcome the perpetual night terrors that he has experienced since his stay working away as a young solicitor, and between them, the two men relive the story by acting out multiple parts in a bid to rid Kipps of his terrible disturbances and his haunting memories of Eel Marsh House.

James delivers a flawless performance as Kipps, as he plays a disturbed timid man with no desire to be a performer, desperate for peace, as the story unfolds, we see him switch from the shy desperate Kipps to loud garish characters, whilst also portraying various other characters adapting a plethora of accents and dialects with ease. Hawkins is spectacular as The Actor, showing the strong confident performer as he initially meets Kipps, eventually submitting to the horror of the story as the plot unfolds, he has us on the edge of our seats throughout.

The eerie set design by Michael Holt, combined with Kevin Sleep’s innovative lighting, effectively transformed the stage into various haunting settings, from a decrepit house to desolate marshes. The strategic use of sound effects and fog heightened the suspense, keeping the audience on edge throughout the performance.

The Woman In Black – Review – Bradford Alhambra (3)

“Thunderous effects”

While the play offers moments of levity, it focuses on suspense and terror, holding the audience spellbound. The impeccable timing of the actors, coupled with startling appearances and thunderous effects, elicited gasps, and petrified jumps from the viewers.

With a runtime of just over two hours, including an interval, the nerve-wracking experience proves to be a thrilling ride for both the actors and the audience and is a must-see, especially for those who enjoy all things paranormal.

As the actors took their final bows to a standing ovation, the theatre buzzed with laughter and animated discussions about the spine-tingling moments witnessed. Exiting the venue, my companion and I shared our experiences of being thoroughly spooked by the play, and still experiencing the adrenalin rush the day after.

‘The Woman In Black’ is at Bradford Alhambra until 24th February
images: Mark Douet


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