After 33 extraordinary years in London’s West End, the theatrical sensation that is Susan Hill’s THE WOMAN IN BLACK, will play its final performance at The Fortune Theatre, London on Saturday 4 March 2023.
Producer Peter Wilson said today, “The Woman in Black’s miraculous theatricality has never faltered. Out of a gauze, a wicker skip and a door Stephen Mallatratt and Robin Herford conjured a complete world into which generations of young people have entered, surrendering to the ultimate magic of theatre: their own imaginations. However, the economic reality of attracting so many young people has caught up with us in a world of rising prices.
My thanks to Charles Kay and John Duttine, the first cast in 1989, to the generations of actors who have maintained the tradition of excellence while inhabiting Susan’s marvellous novella and Stephen’s extraordinary adaptation, to Robin Herford – who has directed every cast over the 33 years – to all the staff at the Fortune and of course the team at PW Productions.”
Susan Hill, writer of the novel said, “I am extremely sad that The Woman in Black is closing at The Fortune Theatre in March next year. It has been the perfect home for us for over 33 years. I am especially proud that Stephen Mallatratt’s wonderful stage adaptation of my ghost story has given generations of young people the opportunity to experience the enjoyment and the life-changing impact of theatre.”
Director Robin Herford said, “Since commissioning Stephen Mallatratt to write me a ghost story for Christmas to present for three and a half weeks at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Autumn of 1987, The Woman in Black has been a significant part of my life for a third of a century – and counting!
The Fortune has been a very happy London home for this play, its intimacy providing not only the right scale and atmosphere for the action, but also a treat for the audience in appreciating this West End jewel with its classic Art Deco architecture. A perfect fit. Leaving The Fortune is the end of a significant chapter in the story of The Woman in Black. It has been a privilege to have stewardship of this theatre with its wonderful staff in which to tell Susan’s devastating story in the highly original and imaginative manner in which Stephen conceived it for the stage.
I am proudest of the number of schoolchildren for whom this production has constituted one of their first experiences of theatre. Young people really respond to this play, and it gladdens my heart when I hear large numbers of schoolchildren queueing up outside before a performance. Earlier this Autumn, I got chatting to a teacher who had brought no fewer than 17 different parties of students to this show over the years! It’s how we grow our next generation of audiences.”
THE WOMAN IN BLACK has played over 13,000 performances in the West End and been seen by over 7-million people in the UK. In June 2019 the production celebrated its 30th Anniversary in London’s West End with a special gala performance.
Following a Christmas production in 1987 at a pub in Scarborough, THE WOMAN IN BLACK was brought to Hammersmith’s Lyric Theatre in January 1989. Reviews were sufficiently encouraging (apart from The Independent, who regretted the production’s inability to incorporate a live dog) to warrant a West End run. Its West End tour started at the Strand (now Novello) Theatre in March and moved to the Playhouse in April, finally lodging at the Fortune on June 7, 1989.
Throughout the run the producer has been determined to keep ticket prices within the range of students and young people. Nevertheless, the production has netted investors more than £8,000,000 over the years at the Fortune. This policy will continue in whatever form the play and production take in the future.
THE WOMAN IN BLACK currently stars Julian Forsyth as Arthur Kipps and Matthew Spencer as The Actor.