After 33 years in London, The Woman in Black—Stephen Mallatratt's stage adaptation of Susan Hill's novel—plays its final performance at The Fortune Theatre March 4. The production played more than 13,000 performances in the West End.
The final cast features Julian Forsyth as Arthur Kipps and Matthew Spencer as The Actor.
Following a Christmas production in 1987 at a Scarborough pub, The Woman in Black opened at Hammersmith’s Lyric Theatre in January 1989, subsequently transferring to the West End's Strand (now Novello) Theatre in March of that year. The production moved to the Playhouse in April and then began its run at the Fortune June 7, 1989.
The thriller concerns a young solicitor winding up the affairs of a bleak and lonely estate on a remote stretch of the coast. He soon discovers, to great personal cost, that the house is haunted... by a woman in black.
The Woman in Black is directed by Robin Herford with designs by Michael Holt and lighting by Kevin Sleep.
Producer Peter Wilson said in an earlier statement, “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."
Novelist Hill added, “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 Herford stated, “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! …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."