The Women in Black
The play is a story of a man’s life. This man is Arthur Kipps; he hires an actor to portray the story he has to tell. The story is apparently a horrific and terrifying story. The actor then begins to tell the old man’s story. This type of story telling is known as a “play within a play” The story within the play is about an old house who is recently dis0owned by a women who just died, as is the way I these circumstances, a lawyer is sent up to the old house to tie up any lose ends and sort out the legal material involved in such a circumstance.
It soon arises that all is not as it seems in this house; in fact the house appears to be haunted by a women who is dressed all in black and has a drawn, ill looking face. It later becomes clear that the women is lingering on at this house because her son was taken away by her sister, and the women then witnesses a horrific accident in which her son and the nanny both die in a horrific hors and trap accident. Since then the “women in black” has haunted the mansion.
And so with the arrival of Mr Kipps to the old house, the scene is set to provide a thrilling ninety minutes of edge of your seat entertainment. So how do the director and actors create such a tense and thrilling atmosphere? The techniques are in some ways very complicated, but on the most part, were very simple. The most predominant technique was in the use of sound. And in some cases the lack of it. For the first, probably, three minutes of the play, absolutely nothing is said, no sound at all is made from the stage.
This is a very effective manipulative technique because it utilises the reputation of the play as a very scary play, this makes the audience immediately on edge without anyone actually saying anything. So inevitably, the first noise made will make the audience jump practically out of there skins. So the use of silence is utilised just as fully as noise which makes the audience become twice as involved. On the other end of the scale, however, the part of the play which gets probably the most screams is in the piercing scream you hear twice through the play.
So then the play within a play gets going. And it is extremely dull. The play is continuously stop-start with the old-man (Mr Kipps) trying to get into his numerous characters and repeatable asking questions about how he should portray a character, and the actor vice-versa. Unwittingly, Mr Kipps slowly becomes more and more efficient in saying his lines, as he does so, the audience is drawn in and becomes more and involved in the play. So when a scary thing does happen, the audience is already enthralled with the play, so the scary incident becomes all the more horrific.
One of the most typical examples of how the audience ids drawn in to the play and becomes involved is when the actor portraying Mr Kipps is searching round the house in pursuit of the cause of a steady “whoosh-whooshing” noise. As he does so he has a torch and with this torch he shines it round so that the audience is submitted to glare from a bright torch in already near pitch black darkness, this makes the darkness all the more blacker and illuminates what the audience really does not want to be illuminated.
First of all the torch comes to a door and the actor portraying Mr Kipps try’s to open it, then the torch points up again and all too clearly illuminates the horrific image of The Women in Black. At this point Adam was practically crying into my shoulder. And once again a piercing scream is let out across the room. Both from the stage and from Adam. Another well-used technique was lighting. By only pointing the lights at different areas of the stage and with different types of cameras, the stage is transformed from one scene to another.
Subconsciously this affects the audience as well, because with each change in lighting certain aspects of the stage are illuminated. What you thought was a thick black curtain suddenly reveals a very creepy children’s nursery, so this makes the audience assume that what appears to be there probably isn’t what it seems, so you are permanently expecting something to jump out from the shadows making the most mundane of accidents, kicking a bucket (could b symbolic), for example, seem like the trap door being let down on the gallows of child criminal.
Appropriately, the last technique used is retrospect. For days after everyone who had seen the play were continually realising what had actually happened in the play. This prolonged the scary effects of the play, and actually prevented me from sleeping. In conclusion the “women in Black” was a play which reduced the audience to dribbling puddles of wobbling, terrified children. It affected me for days after and the affects are still with me. And best of all, it made David Wynter scream.