Reviewed by Sophie Ross
4th December 2017
Reviewer Rating: ★★★★
Currently playing at the Charing Cross Theatre, this is the first major revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Woman In White. Based on the 19th century mystery novel by Wilkie Collins, this dark gothic romance is told perfectly through this well written fiction novel. Telling the tale filled with secrets of a mystery fellow who preys on young girls, it’s filled with atmospheric moments, drama, and love. Joined in the audience by Andrew himself, we were excited to see how the show would pan out in such a small intimate setting.
Walter Hartright (played by Ashley Stilburn) plays the role of an art tutor in a stately home in the country. Lived in by two unmarried sisters who both take fancy to young Walter, he begins to tell the tale of a young woman dressed in white whom he encountered on his way. Left with the mystery of trying to find out her identity he uncovers many secrets and betrayal along the way. Ashley plays Walter with passion and knows how to show the light and shade of his character. He has the audience with him throughout the whole piece, even if the other characters aren’t always on his side.
Chris Peluso plays crafty man Sir Percival Glyde. The true villain of the story who attempts to be a smooth-talking charmer to those around him. Accompanied by his Italian companion Count Fosco played by Greg Castiglioni, the pair are a troublesome deceiving twosome. Greg plays the character with such charisma and charm that although his intentions are bad, you kind of love to hate him. He has the audience believing he is good for the most part before revealing his true self later on in the story.
Carolyn Maitland plays Marian Halcombe and for us, was a real stand out performer in this piece. Suffering with a nasty cold on the show’s opening night, she still managed to give a wonderfully powerful performance and her vocals were truly stunning throughout. She played her character incredibly well and really showed the different emotions that she was feeling along the way. Playing alongside Anna O’Bryne as Laura and Sophie Reeves as the ghostly figure Anne, the threesome performed Lloyd Webber’s score beautifully and each gave their characters such justice. An all round amazing performance by them all.
Thom Southerland’s staging although simple was incredibly effective and worked so well with the piece. The scene changes were slick and seamless and created the right atmosphere at all the right moments. Added by dark powerful lighting allowing each character to have their moment in the spotlight, it’s a wonderful use of the small space of the Charing Cross theatre stage.
The score was delivered beautifully by the orchestra and really excelled during the crucial/tense parts of the show. A wonderful blend of elements from the creatives and one that we believe made the show that much more thrilling to watch.
It’s a great piece to see if you’re looking for something different this Christmas. It plays at the Charing Cross Theatre until February 2018.