The Woman in White, Charing Cross Theatre, Review
“OK, we’re all here now…”
…boldly states someone sitting four rows away, whilst we wait that extra five minutes for the last few stragglers to wend their way down from the bar… It’s Press Night for the revival of The Woman In White and we’re excited to see what the night has in store. Thankfully, the extra time didn’t matter as the show was worth waiting for.
From the moment the house lights are down, we are transported to Cumberland, 1859, where young drawing tutor Walter Hartwright arrives on a dark station platform. Moments later, he is confronted by a woman dressed all in white, harbouring a secret and asking for help. The mystery remains unsolved as Hartwright (played by Ashley Stilburn) takes a new post at Limmeridge House, where under the miserly eye of Mr. Fairlie (Antony Cable) he must tutor the two ladies of the house, half-sisters Marian Halcombe (Carolyn Maitland) and Laura Fairlie (Anna O’Byrne). As covert glances are thrown between the three leads, a romance develops, but will it overpower an engagement to the esteemed Sir Percival Glyde (Chris Peluso)? And what is the dark connection to the woman in white?
The production is accompanied by a ten-piece orchestra, led by Simon Holt. The leads are outstanding, both in voice and character, but you may find it is Maitland’s subtle comic timing as Halcombe that really catches the eye. And of course, special mention must go to Greg Castiglioni who is having immense fun as Count Fosco, whilst always allowing the audience in on the joke. Sophie Reeves does a commendable job as the title character, but the ensemble seem a little underused, spending much of their time moving furniture. However, wonderful use is made of the sliding door set to introduce characters, particularly the woman in white. It’s a simple idea done well.
To conclude, we settle in for a night of mystery with this one, but for those who have never encountered the musical or book before (I raise my hand), the swift darkening of tone midway through Act 1 can be a little unexpected. Still, with excellent vocals and staging, this revival is outstanding and definitely one to catch before the end of the run in February.
Reviewer: Jemma Gould
The Woman In White at the Charing Cross Theatre,
Mon-Sat 7.30pm, Weds matinee 2:30pm, Sat matinee 3pm.
Box office: 08444 930 650
Patrick Gracey, Steven M. Levy and Vaughan Williams by arrangement with The Really Useful Group Limited.
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics by David Zippel
Book by Charlotte Jones