News: ‘The Woman in Black’ by Shakespeare Theatre Company at the Lansburgh Theatre

Shakespeare Theatre Company announced this week that one of London’s most popular and long-running plays will join a season of classical theatre as a special presentation: The Woman in Black at the Lansburgh Theatre (450 7th Street NW) December 4-22, 2019.

‘Woman in Black’ poster. Image courtesy of Shakespeare Theatre Company.

Susan Hill’s Gothic ghost story, adapted for the stage by Stephen Mallatratt, is set in an isolated windswept mansion with tragic secrets hidden behind its shuttered windows. Thirty years earlier, amidst the eerie marshes and howling winds of England’s forbidding Northeast Coast, a young lawyer endured a night of horrific visions that have haunted him ever since. Now he returns on Christmas Eve to the sinister site with an actor to exorcise the terrors of that horrid night. With just two actors, The Woman in Black offers audiences an evening of unremitting drama and sheer theatricality “guaranteed to chill the blood” (Evening Standard).

Director Robin Herford “is able to weave a delicate web of illusion” (Chicago Sun-Times) to develop an atmosphere of dread, with well-timed jump scares. Herford personally directs every recast and has also directed productions of the play abroad in Tokyo (in Japanese), America, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand.

The haunted holiday story has a distinguished history extending far beyond A Christmas Carol. “As Dickens knew, sharing ghost stories is an old festive tradition in England,” explains Artistic Director Simon Godwin, who recently joined Shakespeare Theatre Company from London’s National Theatre. “The Woman in Black is the perfect spine-tingling companion to our other holiday treat for audiences of all ages: the world premiere of Lauren Gunderson’s spectacular Peter Pan.”

Produced by PW Productions, who also brought the multiple award-winning An Inspector Calls to STC, The Woman in Black offers a “delicious spell of malevolence and menace” (Time Out London).

Tickets are currently available at the STC website in subscriptions or packages, and single tickets will be released August 22, 2019.

The History of The Woman in Black

Susan Hills novel The Woman in Black was originally published in 1983 and has thrilled millions of readers ever since. Winner of the Whitbread, Somerset Maugham, and John Llewelyn Rhys Awards, as well as having been shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Hill is an acclaimed master of contemporary ghost stories. The Washington Post hailed her novel as “one of the strongest stories of supernatural horror…the work bursts into life and does not flag until the end.” The classic chiller was released as a major motion picture starring Daniel Radcliffe in 2012, and soon became the highest-grossing British horror film in 20 years.

Robin Herford commissioned Stephen Mallatratt to adapt the novel for the stage in 1987 and it was produced as a Christmas show at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, U.K. After months of sold out performances, the play transferred to London’s West End in January 1989. Previous actors to join the cast of The Woman in Black include Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love, The Handmaid’s Tale), Michael Grandage (Artistic Director of Michael Grandage Company), and Martin Freeman (Sherlock, Black Panther).


Robin read Philosophy and English at St. Andrews University and trained as an actor at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.

Much of his early career was involved with Alan Ayckbourn and the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough. Joining the company in 1976 as an actor, he was appointed Associate Director in 1979 and was Artistic Director from 1986 to 1988. Robin has appeared in the original production of more Ayckbourn plays than any other actor, from Ten Times Table in 1977 to Henceforward… in 1987 and including the monster 16-play two-hander Intimate Exchanges. He came to London with Season’s Greetings and Suburban Strains (Roundhouse), Intimate Exchanges (Ambassadors) and Henceforward… (Vaudeville).

While Artistic Director at Scarborough, he commissioned and directed Stephen Mallatratt’s phenomenally successful adaptation of The Woman in Black, which has been running in the West End for almost 30 years and has completed 12 national tours.

Robin’s other London productions include The Glory of The Garden, (Duke of York’s), Rough Justice(Apollo), Joking Apart and The Importance of Being Earnest (Greenwich), and The Secret of Sherlock Holmes (Duchess).


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