Edgy ‘Woman in Black’ works

  • Dale Burrows<br>For the Enterprise
  • Thursday, February 28, 2008 8:58am

“Men in Black” is back. But what about women? Is this or is this not the era of the E.R.A.?

Indeed, it is; at Edge anyway, to an extent. “The Woman in Black” is their latest.

Mind you, the woman in black is the only female in the script. She doesn’t say or do anything or even show herself except clothed from head to foot in black sackcloth. But even so, she is woman, hear her roar. The woman in black scares the living daylights out of you.

Kind of.

At its core, “Woman” is a ghost story that wants to be a spine tingler and a spoof, and is.

A bit too much is made of a dead woman who haunts a lonely English mansion on a foggy marshland and of standoffish locals who make cryptic remarks and of things that go bump in the night. But just when you think see playwright Stephen Mallatratt’s tongue in his cheek, the hairs on the back of your neck start standing up. You are being played with, and you don’t mind in the least.

Also, you are being led without knowing it.

You see, the ghost story is being told by a solicitor from London who lived it and believes it and an actor who didn’t and doesn’t. But there is a catch. The actor plays the part of the solicitor in the ghost story, and the solicitor plays the parts of the locals he ran into when he endured what has become a nightmare he can’t shake.

“Woman,” ultimately, is a ghost story within a play about the solicitor and the actor and obsessions; acquiring them, ridding yourself of them, transmitting them.

What you make of all this is pretty much up to you. But there are a few givens. Realistic, oftentimes chilling sound effects as designed by Rob MacGregor and provided by Melanie Calderwood will set you up. And Buddy Mahoney as The Actor who plays the solicitor in the ghost story and Brian Vyrostek as the solicitor who plays all other parts, will take it from there. You can believe it, the Mahoney-Vyrostek combination covers the bases. They get you coming and going and don’t let up.

“Woman in Black” is adapted from Susan Hill’s best-selling novel. It continues selling out at London’s Fortune Theatre even now after thirteen years; and Edge’s Director, Roger Kelley, is first to lay hands on it in our area. Things drag a little here and there. But ghost story or intellectual exercise, see what you make of it.

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