the woman in black: an expedition

my mate Emily and I decided to get a bit drunk and go see the Woman in Black since everyone says it’s rlly scary. that’s it that’s the premise.

Before

A             Okay. We – this is the stupidest thing we’ve ever done.

E              This is a bad introduction

A             Okay UGH we are WALKING from the spoons to the

Theatre

Thassit

E              That’ll do

A            I’ve had one gin and tonic, half a bottle of prosecco

Em’s had half a bottle of prosecco, a double rum and coke, and a shot of whiskey

Within

About an hour.

E              Impressive

A             I feel like you’re gonna start crying

Emily doesn’t like horror

E              I really don’t

A             We’ve both seen the film

Editor’s note: This was a lie. I have not seen the film. 

E              I’m really concerned Ava

I’m gonna like get to the break the seal level and have to pee halfway through                     the first act

A             Don’t tell me that or I’m gonna have to do that as well (Ed. – we held it in really                    well)

E              Then a scary bit will come and I’ll pee my pants

A             What if

You got up

And she was in the aisle

E             gjdgkshglskglkfhgsflks no!!

A             She’s gonna bob around the Upper Circle (Ed. – she does not do this. This did not                 stop us from hiding under our jackets)

E              You’re on the aisle seat

A             Why didn’t I book in the middle

E              Did you choose the aisle

A             Yes

E              Why

A             I don’t know

E              Foolish girls

A             We’re gonna hold each other’s hands

 

Interval

A             Um okay

I’m feeling a little bit stressed

E              Not a lot of scary stuff has happened yet

A             It’s all setting up

Before the thrills

And spills

E              I can see why A Level students study this play

Cos there’s metatheatricality

A             They set it out pretty well

Cos what they do is like

Set it up like

It’S tHe TheATrE

hoW could it POSSIBLY be sCAry

When it’s all MAKE BELIEVE

E              There’s like five false starts

And we’ve seen the woman three times already and each time

It’s been kinda

Funny

A             I kinda think it’s quite audacious (Ed. – do I???) to give it a really fucking boring                  start

E              It’s so boring

And that’s not seen that much in theatre

Like it starts with a guy REALLY BADLY reading a script

A             I think it’s quite an effective way to open a show (Ed. – ??? I disagree with past                      me virulently)

The bit where it scared me most was this bit with a train where another train m                  passes and there’s a really loud noise and I like burrowed into you

E              What was the cue line like

“What do you mean – nothing?”

And then

BRASGHAGHDJ TRAIN

Cos I really don’t like horror but I’ve been watching the first bit like

Give me some scares

I want some scares.

I’m hooked

A             Are you? (Ed. – lol relax Ava don’t get catty)

E              I came here

For some cheap thrills

A             They’re not gonna be cheap they’re gonna be EARNED (Ed. – were they tho)

E              West End budget

A             Exactly

I did like –

Towards the end the guy was monologuing and there was a really precise spot                    on his face and I was like / OOOH

E              OOOH

A             THEATRE!! HERE WE GO

E              The LIGHTS and the SPACE (Ed. – I hate us)

A             It’s almost like

They play off what you think theatre will be

Maybe I’m reading too into it

But like

I feel like they play into the idea of theatre being rickety and boring and silly

E              Yes

A             And How Scary Can The Imagination Really Be!!

And it’s like

Very scary!!! Actually!!!

E              And with the recorded sound

A             It shouldn’t be creepy but it is

E              I feel very invested in being scared

A             I’m gonna cry I’m gonna cry

E              The adrenaline

A             I’m gonna cry (Ed. – drama queen fml)

E              I’m ready to make some weird noises like

Sfsakfbdjgbdgjksbsjkgb (Ed. – use ur imagination, it was quite impressive)

Five minutes after the curtain went up the alcohol like –

Hit me

And I started like

Making finger guns at the stage (Ed. – she did. During the “””funnies””” at the                        start Em literally did finger guns and said “wahey” at one of the actors….from the                   circle)

A             Yeah when he said something like

Oh and our audience

Who AREN’T here but are GOING TO BE LATER

You like

Waved???

E              Yes

A             And I was like he CAN’T SEE YOU

Anyway we need to go back in

 

After

A             Well

E              IT WASN’T THAT SCARY

IT WAS FINE

WE’RE VERY STRONG WOMEN

A             I will start by saying (Ed. – here we go)

That I think (Ed. – are u ready)

                That it’s super fucking interesting (Ed. – s’not that deep Ava)

That she doesn’t do a bow

Cos I think it says

A hell of a lot

About the industry (Ed. – your honour? A reach)

Like but like she fucking carried it!!!!

E              Ava

Are you saying

Are you saying that

The theatre industry

Doesn’t value women

A             AM I??????? (Ed. – I AM saying that but this is dumb obv)

E              A bold claim!!!!!

A             But she does all this work

And she’s the reason why people come

E              She’s like running around the stage

A             Because they wanna maintain this like

Dramaturgical

THING

That they’ve got going

They don’t have her bow

I just think it’s interesting (Ed. – I take it back I think this is actually q an                                 interesting point)

But it was not scary

E              No

And the bits that were scary were like things you do find fundamentally                               distressing

Like

I do find six year olds dying very distressing!!!!

A             That wasn’t even scary

E              But like screaming people is scary!!!

A             It’s like it completely works off tropes, right

They’re so ingrained in our cultural consciousness that if I hear a woman                             screaming

If I hear uh

Like a music box tinkling

E              That got me

Like

Ding ding ding ding

This is CREEPY!!

A             If I’d seen it when I was thirteen I’d probably have been like

Well I would’ve loved it

And been like

That’s so cool that’s what theatre can do

But now I find it funny cos you can see all the seams

Like when she’s appearing all over the place

I can just IMAGINE her like

Running backstage and like legging it to her next cue

In her long black dress.

E            Cos the person isn’t scary

It’s the idea of the person!!!

A             This is some people’s first foray into theatre

E              Probably a lot of people’s first West End show in London

A             Yeah

So my GCSE text was Journey’s End

And there was a production on somewhere

And that was such a seminal thing for me

Like I have a real fondness for that play even though now

Fuck me

I would NEVER watch that play

It’s just about these men in WW1 in the trenches.

E              Mine was Midsummer Night’s Dream

And they made lots of jokes about Martin Clune because he’s big in the South                        West

A             Loooool

But like seeing Journey’s End

That was the first time I was like

Oh my God I’m FEELING something

E              My first thing on seeing Midsummer was

Oh you can pretend something’s onstage and like

Still believe it???

The whole second half – there was this dog that you couldn’t see

Like a real dog

A             Would’ve taken away from it

E              Yeah been the Live Thing onstage that you pay attention to.

Emily gets distracted by something and we chat about that for a few minutes, apparently. Then we get back to it.

                I feel quite proud that we weren’t that scared.

A             Yeah I’m like

I’m 23 and I wasn’t scared at all

E              I’m a grown up

Closing thoughts

A             I dunno like

It is what it is

E              I was disappointed at the lack of theatrical payoff

I sound like a wanker

But

A             No I get it

You could see her like

Moving into position

E              Cos the emergency exit lights were on where we were

A             What I think it does well is like that real suspension of disbelief

And like that’s why horror theatre should work better than it does, maybe

You know all these people are running around backstage

And moving to their cues etc

But when it happens – when she jumps out – everyone wants to scream

So they do scream

And that’s what’s kinda amazing

That like collective

Sorta consciousness being like

WE’RE GONNA SCREAM NOW BECAUSE IT’S GONNA BE SCARY AND WE                               WANNA FEEL THAT

E              From a front of house perspective

You know the French kids who were behind us chatting

A             No disrespect to the French

E              We are not xenophobes

A             They were literally talking loudly

In French (Ed. – me again. lmao we GET it)

E              I was like if one of them kicks my chair when they scream

I’m gonna turn around and punch them

But like

You can’t make it too scary

A             Cos otherwise it would be disruptive

E              Yeah

Like it could get people jumping out of their seats and getting upset and like

Punching each other

Cos you know how earlier we were like

If someone touches me

Like the Woman

I’m gonna fucking punch them

A             Yeah yeah yeah

That’s so interesting cos like

There’s always a limit to theatre

Whereas in film

That’s why I find film more scary

It’s unlimited

Whereas this

E              If it was actually really properly scary

A             Then it would be dangerous

And it’s like (Ed. – one more big ol take from ava here)

Is theatre dangerous

If it can provoke that kinda gut-response of like I’m gonna punch you if you                         touch me

This is like

The Greeks talked about this (Ed. – vv astute love it)

E              The Greeks

A             The Greeks

Like I swear they were really aware of the power of theatre and how it could                      affect behaviour

E              Yeah

A             It’s like catharsis

It’s like a feeling of like being pulled out of yourself

E              Like you know how with Rites of Spring there were riots at the theatre

A             Yeah!!

But I don’t see anything now which is like that

E              Cos theatre has to fight for its place in the cultural sector

So it has to be like

A             Not palatable

But somewhere near there

E              It has to have some kind of

Commercial/public value

And if it caused riots it would be shut down.

A             Yeah

Ostensibly for safety but also because like

Unbridled emotions in like a community are dangerous.

Or something.

 

If you wanna see the Woman in Black it will be running for the next fifty million years so take ur time dw about it.

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