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tHE woman in black, theatre royal, glasgow

When Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe came of big-screen age earlier this year in the cinematic adaptation of Susan Hill's spookiest of novels, one feared that its gothic gloss might suck the life out of the late Stephen Mallatratt's stage version.

After more than two decades in the West End and 10 national tours, and judging by this latest encounter, Robin Herford's still spine-tingling production isn't ready to lie down just yet.

Mallatratt's play finds lawyer Arthur Kipps hiring an actor to role-play events from years before in an attempt to exorcise ghosts that have haunted him since. These involve a young Kipps being packed off to a desolate country house to oversee a dead woman's affairs, only to have the eponymous woman transform his life. As a dense yarn of illegitimacy, accidental death and revenge from the grave is unveiled, the shocks pile on aplenty for Kipps, whether played by Julian Forsyth or by Antony Eden's actor.

This may sound terribly meta, but it is also a masterclass in suspending disbelief.

As has already been noted on these pages, fans of immersive theatre who think they've discovered the holy grail in art-house fringe spaces elsewhere could learn much from The Woman in Black. The box of tricks used in both are essentially the same, and go back a lot further.

Yet there's more going on here than meets eye. As Audrone Koc's woman enacts her revenge on the world, it's as if she's calling to account the moral hypocrisy of a society that robbed her of her child. As long as audiences enjoy being terrified, chances are she'll be cursing them for several years to come.

HHHH

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