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The Woman in Black Review

Nadine Flynn on the Drama Society’s first production of the semester….

This year’s inaugural Dramsoc show was a production of Susan Hill’s gothic novel, for sale The Woman in Black, purchase directed by Rory Crean and starring Darragh Cushen and Eamon McCarron. Having only seen the recent film adaption I had no idea what to expect. I was unaware of the fact that this play, adapted for stage by Stephen Mallatratt, is the second longest running non-musical play in West End history. Having see this production, I can imagine why. From the eerie sound effects to the chilling acting, this play was a major success all round.

The play follows the story of Arthur Kipps (Darragh Cushen), a young solicitor who travels to the isolated village of Crythin Gifford to attend the funeral and review the paperwork of a Mrs Alice Drablow. However, what seems like just another business assignment becomes a terrifying and life-changing experience for Kipps, as he encounters the menacing spirit who haunts the Drablow manor. Years later, he hires a young, enthusiastic actor (Eamon McCarron) to help him recall his memories of this haunting trip which has plagued him for years and to share his story with his family and friends.

McCarron and Cushen presented us with intense and terrifying performances,  certainly deserving of the standing ovation which they received. McCarron not only performed the role of the young actor, but settled into the role of a younger Kipps too.  His onstage transformation from a brash and obnoxious character into a solitary, tormented young man was excellent and allowed him to demonstrate his range. The echoing sound affects by sound designer Laura Byrne also contributed to the play’s unsettling atmosphere.

McCarron was not the only actor to acquit himself admirably; Darragh Cushen embraced the role of the older Mr Kipps, who acted as narrator and, like McCarron, played multiple roles, as he portrayed the people whom he encountered on his earlier travels. His portrayal of a withered, traumatised old man will not be quickly forgotten. Both his delivery and his body language skillfully conveyed his torment. As the play progresses we see his character transform from a reluctant, anxious man to one who embraces his role and the story in general. His narration, which echoed from the back of the theatre, was one of the play’s most intense factors, and really held it all together.

The actors are not the only ones deserving of praise. The previously mentioned Laura Byrne and lighting designer Conor Byrne are partially responsible for the disturbing atmosphere which ensured we in the audience would all be sleeping with the lights on. The play’s director, Rory Crean, is also deserving of great credit. His directorial skills put this outstanding performance all together.  Every aspect of the play was handled skillfully. Dramsoc’s first show of the year has exceeded expectations and set a high standard for this year’s productions. Unfortunately the show has come to a close, but there are plenty of promising productions lined up for the semester. Be sure to check out some of the upcoming productions such as the ‘All My Sons’, directed by Ciara Dredge, which will be on in the UCD Dramsoc theatre from the 14th to the 18th of October.

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