For your consideration, we offer a unique London theatre break. Your first port of call will be a solemn funeral in a windswept cemetery, where you’ll encounter a shrouded figure and be chilled to the marrow by a blood-curdling scream. After that, you’ll be trapped in an ever decreasing spiral of terrifying events, climaxing in a denouement of heart-stopping terror.
Sounds good? Of course it does, because it’s Stephen Malatratt’s super-spooky adaptation of Susan Hill’s classic gothic horror novel The Woman In Black.
A minimalist two-hander, this story of a young lawyer entwined in a supernatural mystery in a remote English town doesn't rely on explicit horror and gore to make it scary. Instead it plays to great effect on the tendency of our own imaginations to fill in the blanks.
Its atmosphere of creeping dread has been scaring audiences witless for over 25 years, and the Telegraph described its unique blend of suspense, drama and bold stagecraft as ‘the most brilliantly effective spine-chiller you will ever encounter'.
More than 7 million people have visited The Woman In Black since its original London debut, which indicates strongly that it strikes a primal, universal chord.
The play’s steady ratcheting up of tension recalls classic tales of fear and suspense like Henry James’ The Turn Of The Screw and Edgar Allen Poe’s Berenice. But that doesn’t mean it’s aimed solely at an older, book-biased audience.
In fact, The Woman In Black has proved so popular with teenagers that it's become a GCSE set text. Matinee performances are regularly populated by school groups who fall completely under its creepy spell.
As such it’s an ideal centrepiece of a London theatre break for your family, or just for you. There’s a reason it’s still running successfully in the West End after a quarter of a century. Perhaps it’s time you found out what that is – if you dare.
Note: This play is not recommended for young children, people with a nervous disposition or those uncomfortable with sudden shocks.