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INTERVIEW: The Woman in Black



“The great things about this play is that the audience does the work for us, they conjure the fear and the horror in their imaginations,” says David Seddon, who plays The Actor in The Woman in Black, which returns to Dubai this week after a gap of three years. “We just allow them the space to use their imaginations. It is, I think, why the play has been so successful. Audiences really engage with it.”

This spine-chilling adaptation of Susan Hill’s 1983 gothic ghost story, in which a young actor helps recount Arthur Kipps’ eerie journal about strange visitations from a mysterious woman, has visited the UAE three times now, playing to a combined audience in excess of 15,000 people. The Madinat Jumeirah Theatre is again the host for what will be nine performances over seven hectic days. For David Seddon, though, who was part of each previous production, it is a welcome return to familiar territory.

Why does this play resonate so much with the public?
Obviously, it’s a very well written play. But I also think it is because the horror is all suggested, not explicit, and I think that’s more effective. It allows the audience to create their own world, to create their own fear. It doesn’t rely on special affects or CGI, which has made cinema-goers a bit numb.

There are some scenes in a child’s nursery. What is the connection between childhood and nursery rhymes and horror?
The juxtaposition, I think, the contrast. It gives something so innocent, something associated with being secure and carefree, a very different, sinister meaning.

Is there a part of the play that you particularly enjoy?
Well, yes, but if I said what it was I’d be giving too much away! Let’s just say that I love the first time the audience jumps. There is a real commotion for about a minute, with screams and laughs, and as an actor you have to pause and allow the audience to revel in it.

Does it surprise you that people in the UAE are so keen?
No, not really. It has set records over 25 years on London’s West End and the last time we came here, which was in 2012, the film with Daniel Radcliffe had just come out. We love coming here, so we’re pleased they want us back!

Madinat Jumeirah Theatre, October 10 to 16,

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