If you like being scared out of your wits Echo Players is opening their season with a drama that is sure to cast a spell of malevolence and menace.
Unanimously acclaimed, The Woman in Black has been scaring audiences for more than 25 years in London’s West End and has been called one of the most exciting, gripping and successful theatre events ever staged.
This fall the ghost takes up residence at the Village Theatre in Qualicum Beach and audiences can be assured of an evening of unremitting drama as they are transported into a terrifying and ghostly world.
Starting on October 16 and running through November 2 The Woman in Black, directed by Sue Murguly, combines the power and intensity of live theatre with a cinematic quality inspired by the world of film noir.
Murguly who directed the play many years ago in Prince George said she can’t wait to bring the psychological thriller to theatre goers here.
“It’s chilling. It will send goose bumps. It is more of a psychological thriller. People will pay attention. Once the lights go off they will be totally engaged.”
Murguly said the play is considered one of the greatest ghost stories ever written explaining that it works because it’s a piece of highly effective craftsmanship.
“We want the audience to use their imagination with what we are presenting and as the story washes over them they join us in the horrifying events that happen but it is very subtle. One of the things is how well the two actors are able to blur the lines between re-enactment and reality so eventually the story they are telling becomes real and it is happening right in front of you so the audience can immerse themselves in that experience.”
Adapted by Stephen Mallatratt from Susan Hill’s creepy novella, The Woman in Black is a play within a play, one that needs just two speaking actors and a vision and Murguly agreed that while it is a very challenging production it has been wonderful to work on.
“It gets everybody’s creative juices going … both sound and lighting as well as the actors all have a huge part to play in bringing this ghostly story into a real experience in the theatre,” she said.
In The Woman in Black, Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor is summoned to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow, the sole inhabitant of Eel Marsh House, unaware of the tragic secrets which lie hidden behind the shuttered windows.
It is not until he glimpses a wasted young woman, dressed all in black at the funeral, that a creeping sense of unease begins to take hold, a feeling deepened by the reluctance of the locals to talk of the woman in black and her terrible purpose.
Years later, as an old man, he recounts his experiences to an actor in a desperate attempt to exorcise the ghosts of the past. The play unfolds around the conversations of these two characters as they act out the solicitor’s experiences on Eel Marsh all those years ago.
Appearing in the Echo Players production by permission of Canadian Actors’ Equity Association are Garry Davey and Mort Paul as Kipps.
The Woman is being performed by Diane LeBlanc.
Davey, who plays at least five characters in the play, brings some star power to the stage of the Village Theatre, having worked in theatres across the country.
The former artistic director for TheatreOne in Nanaimo and the William Davis Centre for Actor’s Study in Vancouver (where he taught for 14 years) has also been in more than 40 television productions, including guest starring roles for Da Vinci’s Inquest, Cold Squad, Outer Limits and The X-Files.
He said his role in the play is challenging especially since he plays so many characters, but he admitted the subject matter isn’t giving him nightmares … yet.
“I played a few roles on the X-Files back in the 90s when it was being shot in Vancouver. I played a crazed high school principal who was in search of Satan. That was the spookiest thing I have done,” said Davey.
Paul said the genre is new to him and he is enjoying the challenge of presenting the story on a mostly bare stage.
“It is spooky and it is really chilling and in learning it … it never stops twisting. I have a line that says nothing so blood curdling and creepy and crude — the truth is quite more terrible. And really the truth of this is terrifying and even though you’ve got it all the way through, the ultimate terror at the end is even worse. It really is horrifying,” said Paul.
Tickets for The Woman in Black can be purchased in person during box office hours Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., or call 250-752-3522 or e–mail: