For a tongue-in-cheek

It’s difficult to create terror in an audience at Qualicum Beach

The strength of Echo Player's production of The Woman in Black is in the acting performances

There is nothing like a good old fashioned ghost story to get you in the mood for Halloween — the current Echo Players production delivers a classic with a few twists and surprises.

The Woman in Black is touted as a theatrical spine chiller that will have you on the edge of your seat the moment the curtain rises, but there is no need to avoid the Village Theatre if you are a scaredy-cat.

Opening night didn’t provoke screams or gasps from the audience and while the play didn’t come across as hair raising, it is definitely a theatrical rarity.

Directed by Sue Murguly, the play itself is captivating even without the fear factor.

With brilliant acting by the two main characters, the play relies on the art of good old fashioned story telling, the kind you might hear while sitting around a campfire.

With a few props and some sound effects, the play has just two main actors to create an illusion for the audience. In an age where the computer-generation has taken over, it’s refreshing to go back to basics.

There are no stunning costumes or lavish sets and the sound designer plays a huge role in bringing Victorian streets and galloping horses to life.

Although I was expecting a real nail biter I left the theatre with all of my finger nails intact and an appreciation for how difficult it is to create terror in live theatre.

Unlike the big screen where directors use editing and special effects to get your heart racing, stage directors must rely on the actors to incite chills.

The strength of this play comes from first rate performances by Gary Davey and Mort Paul both appearing by permission of Canadian Actors’ Equity Association.

The fact that there are only these two actors playing numerous characters makes the play very unique but the audience must fully engage their brain and imagination if they want to experience a ghostly night in the theatre.

The story starts out simply enough.  The earnest young solicitor Arthur Kipps leaves cosmopolitan London for the mysterious Eel Marsh House in the remote town of Crythin Gifford.

He has been asked to attend the funeral of one of his firm’s clients, the reclusive Mrs. Alice Drablow, and finalize the dead woman’s affairs.

What he comes across, however, will leave its mark on him for years to come, and as an older, greyer man (Davey), he will turn to a bright-eyed Actor (Paul), bursting with charm and enthusiasm, to exorcise ghosts both emotional and real – through a retelling of his experience.

With a comic flare, Kipps and the actor banter back and forth about just how excruciating the long mumbled manuscript would be for an audience to endure.  Finally, the actor convinces Kipps not only to turn the story into theatre, but also to let him, the actor, play the young Mr. Kipps of the story.

At first, the play seems to drag on as the two characters argue as to whether or not the retelling of The Woman in Black is possible but this is purposely and skilfully done to lull the audience into a false sense of security.

The elder Kipps begins the journey of reliving his past with great hesitation, but soon slips into the shoes of the host of colourful characters he encounters along the way with the hired Actor playing a younger version of himself.

Davey does a stellar job portraying the various characters Paul’s young Mr. Kipps encounters on his visit to the English Moor.  From a snuffling clerk to a taciturn horseman, Davey makes each character unique allowing the audience to keep the story clear.

Paul has the challenge of transporting the audience into the scary house and he does so with highly engaging story telling.

The contrast between the characters of the actor, whose name is never stated, and the elder Kipps provides the audience with a glimpse into the past, so to speak, as the two roles slowly become inverted. The actor, who begins re-enacting the events of Kipps’ manuscript becomes more acquainted with the ghost of Kipps past than he is aware of.

With just hints, glimpses and suggestions on what is shadowy, heard and sometimes only half-seen including The Woman who is performed by Diane LeBlanc it is up to the audience to unravel the mystery.

The spirit of the show is a murky ghost story and is an ode to the art of storytelling and the theatre allowing those who accept the premise to be engaged.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RDN says water in French Creek still potable despite levels of iron, manganese

Strategy to improve water quality being established

COVID-19: City of Parksville to open offices on June 1

Health and safety restrictions will be in place

Program at Parksville’s McMillan Arts Centre offers chance to connect art, environmentalism

MAC program works to create community arts installation in city

Questions remain as summer tourism approaches in Parksville Qualicum Beach

COVID-19: Association hopes residents continue to support local businesses

‘A bottomless well of love for people and communities’

Parksville Qualicum Beach News editor JR Rardon dies at age 61

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

Nanaimo senior clocked going 50 km/hr over limit says her SUV shouldn’t be impounded

RCMP say they can’t exercise discretion when it comes to excessive speeding tickets

B.C. sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, one death as officials watch for new cases amid Phase Two

Number of confirmed active cases is at 244, with 37 people in hospital

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

100-pound gargoyle stolen from backyard in Nanaimo’s south end

RCMP asking for any information about the statue’s whereabouts

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

COLUMN: Canada needs to remember rural communities as thoughts turn to pandemic recovery

Small towns often rely on tourism, which has been decimated by COVID-19

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

As SD84 schools look to reopen, Kyuquot and Zeballos opt out

Schools in Tahsis and Gold River will open on June 1, with 30 per cent students expected to come in

Most Read