Review: Sussex production is filled with chills
by James Cotter
October 11, 2008

SUSSEX, NJ– Halloween will be soon upon us with its haunted houses and
ghosts.  THE WOMAN IN BLACK has both house and ghost with mayhem
and death lurking in the English fog on a deserted island cut off from the
mainland by a march.  A solicitor talks an actor into playing his part to help
him exorcise the evil memories of his encounter with the ghost of a mother
who has lost her child in an accident on the causeway.  In re-enacting the
scenes, the actor brings the past back to life, with terrible consequences.

THE WOMAN IN BLACK is adapted by Stephen Mallatratt from the novel by Susan hill.  it is being revived by
Tri-State Actors, under the adept direction of Paul Meacham, with two first-class players: Roland Johnson in the
part of Arthur Kipps, the solicitor, and Gordon Gray as the actor.

Johnson transforms himself from a third-rate reader of his own play into a versatile actor portraying not only Kipps
but also a variety of other characters.  He narrates passages while they unfold on the stage with horrifying
reality as Gray grapples with the ever-growing tension of dark rooms, ghastly apparitions and screams in the night.
Gray is mesmerizing as he throws himself into solving the mysterious events of the past.  Both actors project
forcefully and handle English accents convincingly.  Lauren DeVore is the skeletal woman who seems all the
more frightening in her silent and sudden appearances.

Set design by Paul Meacham shifts easily from the cluttered actor’s studio to the macabre rooms of the
marshland house.  Costumes by Patricia Meacham allow Johnson to change quickly into different roles and make
the Woman in Black a true specter.  The total blackouts by lighting designer Steven Silvia are particularly effective.

A pre-show Halloween Party and Costume Contest will be held on Oct. 31.  For genuine stage fright, do not miss
this gothic Victorian thriller.