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September 3, 2013 > Season of mystery & romance continues with "The Woman in Black"

Season of mystery & romance continues with "The Woman in Black"

Submitted By Susan E. Evans, Photo by Terry Sullivan

The Douglas Morrisson Theatre continues its 2013-2014 season of mystery and romance with "The Woman in Black" - A Ghost Play adapted by Stephen Mallatratt from the book by Susan Hill. Directed by Marilyn Langbehn and featuring C. Conrad Cady, Mark Frazier, and Cynthia Lagodzinski, "The Woman in Black" is a marvelous piece of chilling storytelling that will have you on the edge of your seat from the moment the house lights go down.

The curtain rises on a small Victorian theatre. Arthur Kipps is attempting to exorcise the demons of his past by recounting his story to an actor, and the two men proceed to "act out" certain events from Kipps' life. Many years before, his job required him to attend the funeral of the sole occupant of Eel Marsh House. He spies a gaunt young woman dressed all in black at the funeral, and the haunting begins. Hidden behind the shuttered windows of that house on the windswept salt marshes, lie tragic and terrible secrets.

"The Woman in Black" was first performed in 1987 at the Theatre-By-The-Sea in Scarborough and is currently in its 24th year at London's Fortune Theatre. It is the second longest-running West End play after "The Mousetrap." "The Woman in Black" has been translated into a dozen languages and produced in 40 countries. In February 2012, Daniel Radcliffe of "Harry Potter" fame appeared in a film adaptation of Susan Hill's novel.

Stephen Mallatratt (1947- 2004) was a British playwright, television screenwriter, and actor. Born in north London from a lower middle-class background, Mallatratt trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama, and worked as a rep actor. "The Woman in Black" is his most well-known work as a playwright. On the official website for the London production of the play, a friend of Mallatratt says that the playwright's "central inspiration" for his adaptation of Hill's book was the opening Chorus of Shakespeare's "Henry V" (the "O for a muse of fire" speech) as he calls upon the audience's imagination to conjure and create the "the gaunt grey house," the mysterious landscape, and ghostly apparitions.

Susan Hill is an English author whose books have won the Whitbread Fiction Award, the Somerset Maugham Award, and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, and been shortlisted for The Booker Prize. Hill is also the author of non-fiction and children's books and book reviews. Her most recent books are a trilogy of crime novels.

Director Marilyn Langbehn is delighted to return to the Douglas Morrisson Theatre where she directed the company's critically-acclaimed Bay Area premiere of "Frost/Nixon." Langbehn is the Artistic Director of Contra Costa Civic Theatre (CCCT), and the Marketing/PR Manager for California Shakespeare Theater.

"The Woman in Black" previews on September 5, opens September 6, and runs through September 29. The Saturday matinee on Saturday, September 21 at 2 p.m. will be followed by a talkback session with the director and cast. Tickets are $10 for the preview show. Evening and matinee performances are $29 for adults; $26 for seniors (60 and over); and $21 for students, juniors, and TBA members. Discounts are also available for KQED members and groups (10+). The Box Office is open Tuesday through Friday, 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and can be reached at (510) 881-6777. Information is also available at

The Woman in Black
Thursday, Sept 5, - Sunday, Sept 29
8 p.m. (Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.)
(Saturday, Sept. 21: 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.)
Douglas Morrisson Theatre
22311 N. Third St., Hayward
(510) 881-6777
Tickets: $10 - $29

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