Theatre Firsts: The Woman in Black
By Jess Meaden
Last week, I sheepishly made my way down to the Fortune Theatre to catch the evening performance of one of London's longest running productions, The Woman in Black. As a first-time audience member - and a self confessed scaredy-cat - I enrolled my best friend, Kate, as my moral support for the evening (unlike me, she's never been one to shy away from a good ghost story).
Here's how we survived The Woman In Black...
7pm: 'Should we go for a glass of dutch courage before we head to the theatre', Kate asks as we walk through Covent Garden en-route to the theatre. 'Absolutely' I reply, relieved that I'm not the only one just a tiny-weeney bit terrified about being scared senseless from inside a theatre - usually my place of sanctuary - but also concerned that my 'support' for the evening is already crumbling.
Enjoying a pre-show beverage to stifle the nerves!
7:25pm: We enter the Fortune Theatre and settle down into our seats for the evening. In any other circumstance I'd be super chuffed with our seats, but with only a few rows between us and the stage I start to wonder if I might appreciate a few more people to shrink behind when things get real scary. Going on the amount of couples cosying up ready for show time, we decide that holding hands is a necessity.
The lights dim, the curtain goes up...and the audience hold thier breath.
The situation before curtain-up...hand-holding and, yup, more wine.
8:45pm: Wine. We need more wine. Our nerves are in tatters and I'm pretty sure we've lost feeling in our hands from gripping onto each other so tight. Without giving anything away, this show is, surprise surprise, bloomin' scary - mixed with a surprising, yet very welcomed, hint of humour. So scary, in fact, that even the sound of the Ushers opening the curtains makes half my row jump out of their skin at the interval. The guy next to me is trying to tell his girlfriend that 'it's not that scary' - um, I saw you jump at least twice buddy, you're not fooling me (or her, for that matter).
'Small glass or large', the bartender asks when I finally move from my seat. Is he joking?!
Kate's initial reaction after Act 1...
10pm: Act 2 is terrifying. In fact, it's a good job we did opt for large drinks because I'm currently wearing half of mine down my right leg from bouncing around in fright so much. Aside from the scare-factor, I feel thoroughly impressed by how such a minimalistic set and a two man cast can immerse you in its story so effectively. My other initial thought is 'Will I ever sleep again?', but I'm willing to push that to the back of my mind until I'm on the tube home.
The uneasiness left behind after curtain-down is slowly replaced by a sense of elation and achievement - we did it, we survived The Woman in Black! And you know what, melodramatics aside, I actually really enjoyed the show. Celebratory 'We're alive!' selfies outside the Fortune commence.
We survived! Obligatory selfies on Drury Lane absolutely necessary.
The Woman In Black has been playing in the West End for 27 years, with over 7 million theatregoers living to tell its tale. Will you be one of them? Find out more about the show by clicking here.