A first for dad and son in ghost story

Christopher and Tom Godwin
Christopher and Tom Godwin

Twenty eight years after its debut, one of the most successful plays in West End history returns to Scarborough where it all began.

The Woman In Black has been especially cast for the 60th anniversary year of the Stephen Joseph Theatre where the play premiered in 1987.

This will be the first chance to see the new actors in the play before they transfer to London’s Fortune Theatre.

The production brings together the original director and designer, Robin Herford and Michael Holt, and the first father and son casting, Christopher and Tom Godwin.

“I’m honoured to bring The Woman In Black back to its roots for the Stephen Joseph Theatre’s 60th celebrations,” said Robin.

“It’s always instructive to re-examine a piece of theatre – something I always attempt to do when rehearsing a new cast into the West End production – but to re-examine it in terms of scale, to pare it down for a small intimate venue makes that process all the more worthwhile.

“Bringing it back with a cast who will go on to perform the play in the West End in August is intensely exciting. And what a cast. Christopher and Tom Godwin, the first father and son combination in the history of the play, are brimming with Scarborough connections. Tom was born and spent his early years here while Christopher was a hugely influential figure in Alan Ayckbourn’s early writing.”

Since the world premiere of The Woman In Black at the theatre’s former Westwood home, Stephen Mallatratt’s adaptation of Scarborough-born Susan Hill’s chilling novella has enthralled more than seven million people worldwide with its unique blend of suspense, drama and bold stagecraft.

Proud and solitary, Eel Marsh house surveys the windswept reaches of the salt marshes beyond Nine Lives Causeway. Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor, is summoned to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow. Years later he recounts his experiences to an actor.

Christopher Godwin reprises his role as Arthur Kipps 15 years after appearing at the Fortune Theatre. Christopher was a company regularly with the Stephen Joseph Theatre from 1971 to 1977 when he also appeared with the late Stephen Mallatratt. He created many Ayckbourn roles including Norman in The Norman Conquests, Colin in Absent Friends and Dennis in Just Between Ourselves. His most recent credits include This House at the National Theatre and The Crucible at the Old Vic.

Scarborough-born Tom Godwin appears opposite his father as The Actor to mark his hometown stage debut.

The play runs at the Stephen Joseph on various dates from June 19 to August 2.