December 7, 2019

The Woman in Black is indeed black and chilling, too

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IMG_2207webColin Wilson

The latest play to be staged at The Prospect Playhouse by the Cayman Drama Society (CDS) is a ghost story adapted by both the author, Susan Hill, from her novel of the same name and Stephen Mallarat.

The novel has also been made into a movie that was so successful there was also a sequel.

Surprisingly, this story has escaped my attention. Before I went to the rehearsal last Thursday (22) to which the press was invited I made it a point of not reading up about it. I wanted it to be fresh. Nothing preconceived.

However, the CDS had provided some information to us:

“Structured as a play-within-a-play, the cast consists of two men – a young actor/teacher and an older gentleman, Kipps, who is haunted by his past. The two use little more than the power of storytelling in a disused theatre to recreate a ghostly experience that befell Kipps many years before. The actor and Kipps swap roles as the actor portrays Kipps in the series of events which have affected him so deeply, while Kipps acts out the roles of all of the other people he encountered during his journey with the Woman in Black.”

Although the cast comprises three persons, it is principally a play performed by two and here the CDS have two talented actors in Martin Tedd as Arthur Kipps, the junior solicitor (lawyer) and Adam Cockerill as the Actor.

I have had the pleasure of directing Martin in a number of productions, most notably Magna Carta where he played King John and more recently The Judith Code where he played the evil Holofernes.

I saw Adam perform in the amazing CDS production of Jekyll and Hyde.

The Woman in Black, who only appears about five times with a total two minutes (I am being generous) on stage is played by Nicola Galvin who I also saw in Jekyll and Hyde.

Two other persons connected with the show, and also very well known to me are Director Paul De Freitas and make-up (supreme) artist Jimmie Deloach. (Jimmie turned me into a zombie in the movie Zombie Driftwood complete with pool ball in my forehead and the cue stick in my neck with tons of blood and protruding eyes!).
With this team in place I was sure it was going to be an excellent production.

I was not to be disappointed.

Before I start upon the meat of the review I must point out I was at a rehearsal with an audience of three that included me and a reporter from another media house. This performance/rehearsal was one week away from the opening night and I am very familiar with how plays look, even at a dress rehearsal the night before opening, and the actual opening night. From a mark of 4 it goes immediately up to 10 in 24 hours!

Therefore I was amazed at how good this rehearsal was. It was also more so as there was hardly a fluff with all the lines the two actors had to learn. Even the technical side was almost spot on.

The hardest part is the one Martin Tedd has to perform. He starts out playing the part of the Solicitor and not doing it very well. He has engaged the services of a professional Actor to instruct him how to act it better. The Actor is not overjoyed at his performance and he tells him that he will play him and he can play all the other roles. And there are dozens of other roles he has to do, including narrating the story in various places.

There is a manuscript, a story, written by the Solicitor but the Actor changes it by omitting a lot of the writing in exchange for sound effects and acting it out on the stage. And there are plenty of sound effects.

The performance is to be staged at an old Victorian theatre in front of invited persons in the hope of exorcising a ghost – the Lady in Black. You see, every time anyone who has seen this charming lady, who has a face that is wasting away, their loved one and their child dies some time after.

And this is where Nicola Galvin comes in. As I said she has minimal stage time but wow, how she makes the most of it. She really is very scary without any false mannerisms, just a stare that chills you even more that the air conditioning that was so cold we had to ask it to be turned down!

Despite the excellent performances from the principals she will be the one you will remember. Stuff of nightmares.

Having said Martin has the most difficult part that he plays with aplomb, this must in no way detract from Adam’s performance. He starts out as a cocky actor, very sure of himself, takes on the role of the Solicitor and gradually we see him fall apart. By the end he is far worse than Martin and there is a stomach churning twist at the very end that I will not give away.

When I asked Martin how did he manage to change his voice and acting style to accommodate all the diverse roles he had to play he said he found it quite easy. It was the costume changes that cued him.

The set design and lighting is exemplary and the standout scene to me is performed behind the scrim where the locked door is opened by the Lady in Black to reveal a child’s nursery that has been ransacked. There is an empty rocking chair moving back and forth as though someone had just been sitting in it!

Paul De Freitas has done an excellent job in making this very difficult play stage well and I am sure by opening night there will be a lot more pace to really drive the tension up.

As I said it is difficult to write a review without getting the opportunity to hear and see the reaction from an audience. I am sure there will be many gasps.

During the interval I spoke to the three actors and the director.

All the actors said it was their most demanding role. The two principals, of course, was over all the lines they had to learn. Nicola said it was how to make something of a part that called just to mainly stand and stare with absolutely no communication to and from the actors.

Martin didn’t think he was going to receive much feedback from the audience and that was going to be difficult. Actors love appreciative feedback as it helps them perform. However, Adam thought there would be plenty of feedback and was looking forward to that. They both said they feed off one another.

Everyone had seen the play performed professionally and it made such an impression upon Paul he wanted immediately to stage it himself. He even took it upon himself to incorporate a change at the very beginning of the play that I am not going to share.

The Lady in Black is sure to chill you and entertain at the same time. Don’t miss it.

Director/Producer: Paul de Freitas
Set: Leslie Bergstrom
Sounds: James Gibb
Lights: Duncan Kilpatrick
Make-up: Jimmie Deloach

Tickets:
$25 adults
$15 Students 12 and over
(NOT SUITABLE FOR MINORS OR BABES IN ARMS)

Dates:
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays
January 29th to February 14th
Curtain at 7:30PM sharp

Call Box office on 938-1998

IMAGES: Colin Wilson

Cayman Drama Society Box office for THE WOMAN IN BLACK now open

ABOUT…

The stage production of The Woman in Black was adapted by Stephen Mallarat from the novel by Susan Hill.

Structured as a play-within-a-play, the cast consists of two men – a young actor/teacher and an older gentleman, Kipps, who is haunted by his past. The two use little more than the power of storytelling in a disused theatre to recreate a ghostly experience that befell Kipps many years before. The actor and Kipps swap roles as the actor portrays Kipps in the series of events which have affected him so deeply, while Kipps acts out the roles of all of the other people he encountered during his journey with the Woman in Black.

It is the second longest running play in London’s West End, after “The Mousetrap” by Agatha Christie.

THE ACTORS Appearing as Kipps is Martin Tedd who has appeared in numerous CDS productions including THE KING AND I in which he played the King.

Appearing as the Actor is Adam Cockerill whose most recent role was Simon Stride in Jekyll and Hyde. Adam has also appeared in productions in The UK, Spain and Russia.

Appearing as the Woman in Black, Nicola Galvin provides a cameo performance.. One of our talented pool of student actors, Nicola has appeared in other notable CDS productions including Jekyll and Hyde and Toad of Toad Hall in which she played Toad. Because of the extraordinary nature of the play, each actor has stated that the experience of bringing THE WOMAN IN BLACK to stage has been one of the most challenging events of their stage careers.

Director/Producer: Paul de Freitas

Set: Leslie Bergstrom

Sounds: James Gibb

Lights: Duncan Kilpatrick

Make-up: Jimmie Deloach

Tickets:

$25 adults

$15 Students 12 and over

(NOT SUITABLE FOR MINORS OR BABES IN ARMS)

Dates:

Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays

January 29th to February 14th

Curtain at 7:30PM sharp

Call Box office on 938-1998

or

Pay online with a credit card at www.cds.ky

Limited seating and 9 shows only!

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2015 CALENDAR OF EVENTS

An Evening Of Reading February 21st

Duets April

Shrek (the musical) May presented by Musicians Limited

100 (the play) June

Rent (the musical) September

Concert October In support of Cayman Hospice Care

NCVO Telethon October

 

CONTACTS

Chairman Sheree Ebanks 916-2722

Theatre Manager Paul de Freitas 916-6331

Website http://www.cds.ky

 

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/caydrama

 

MISSION STATEMENT

 

The Cayman Drama Society is committed to providing quality live theatre to educate, enrich and entertain, while providing lifelong learning opportunities and fostering creative expression.

 

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