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The Woman in Black
a Mystery
by Stephen Mallatratt

COMPANY : Ouroboros Theatre Productions [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Dancing Goat Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 4643

SHOWING : October 17, 2014 - October 26, 2014



The framework of this spine tingler is unusual: a lawyer hires an actor to tutor him in recounting to family and friends a story that has long troubled him concerning events that transpired when he attended the funeral of an elderly recluse. There he caught sight of the woman in black, the mere mention of whom terrifies the locals, for she is a specter who haunts the neighborhood where her illegitimate child was accidentally killed. Anyone who sees her dies! The lawyer has invited some friends to watch as he and the actor recreate the events of that dark and stormy night...

Director Michael Harrison
Kipps Jerry Jobe
Actor Marcus Weathersby
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The Women in Black
by playgoer
Sunday, October 26, 2014
Ouroboros Theatre’s production of "The Woman in Black" is handsomely produced, with period-appropriate costumes designed by Jen Burnes, atmospheric set and lighting design by Kathleen Cole, and mood-setting sound design by Matt Reiszl. The production looks terrific, with a sheer black curtain upstage that allows glimpses of the haunted bedroom that figures in the story and that also contains the majority of the stage fog used liberally in the production. That’s a smart move, giving the visual effect of fog without choking the audience. A nice collection of vintage-looking trunks in front of the curtain is reconfigured for various other locales.

This is a two-man show, and the actors need to be able to handle the demands of the script. Here, they are magnificent. Jerry Jobe makes a believable non-actor Kipps, then slides effortlessly into the variety of roles he portrays in the story. Marcus Weathersby is equally believable as an accomplished stage actor, and his interactions with Mr. Jobe work in just the right way to drive the play along.

Technically, the action gets a little too ambitious. The special FX coordinators (Caroline Shrader and Ciarra Hodges) are given more than they really need to do to accomplish the effect of haunting, and a sequence lit by flashlights goes on a little too long. This is probably in part a consequence of playing this two-act show without an intermission. Some streamlining of the action sequences would have served the production better when it was decided not to give the audience a break.

The biggest problem in the show, though, is the decision by director Michael Harrison to change the playing of the script’s ending. When played straight, the audience is given an added chill as it and the actor simultaneously realize that the woman in black has made a final haunting visitation. In this production, the ending is treated as a sort of macabre joke, which deflates the effect of the entire show. It’s a fatal misstep that puts a directorial stamp on the show that stamps out the playwright’s intention. Otherwise, all the elements are there for a terrific show. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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