Love London Love Culture’s Emma Clarendon chatted to Julian about starring in The Woman in Black as Arthur Kipps.
Hi Julian, how does it feel to be part of such an iconic show? The cast changes every nine months, so it feels a bit like you’re carrying the baton, to ensure that continuing success. But I obviously enjoy that responsibility, as I’ve now done about one thousand performances of The Woman in Black, spread over thirteen years. Sometimes audiences scream in terror. Other times they just sit spellbound. Either way, the audience involvement is what makes it special and ensures I never get bored with it.
What made you want to return to the show? As Arthur Kipps, whose encounter with the ghost as a young man changes his life for ever, I also get to play six other characters! That’s a challenge. And I love the moments of comedy in between the scary bits. As it’s seven years since I last played it, I felt I could bring something fresh to it again.
What do you think it is about the story that appeals to so many? We always have to be careful not to give anything away! It’s a tragic tale that everyone can identify with, but also an utterly gripping ghost story, brilliantly told in the original novel by Susan Hill. The great strength of the stage adaptation is that, unlike the film, it is completely faithful to the novel, and adds a very clever framing device to bring it to theatrical life.
What was the first time you experienced The Woman in Black? An actor friend, the late great Robert Demeger, who played Arthur Kipps many, many times, suggested I come and see him in the show. I was hooked. It was Robert who then recommended me for the role to director Robin Herford, so I owe him a lot.
For those yet to experience the show what can they expect? I’ve said how the audience involvement is what makes this show special. With just two actors on stage and very basic props, costumes and scenery, the audience are encouraged to use their imagination through the very clever build-up in Act One. By Act Two, when the thrills come thick and fast, their imaginations are working overtime. So something as simple as a door slamming shut is quite likely to make them scream!
By Emma Clarendon
The Woman in Black continues to play at the Fortune Theatre. You can book your tickets here.