Everybody loves spooky stories. Everybody, that is, except Arthur Kipps. He has one that he has never revealed to anyone, until now. No great teller of tales, he enlists the aid of a professional actor to teach him how to describe the horrors he experienced those many years ago, memories which have deeply affected him to this day.
A bit of early patience is well rewarded as the opening scenes establish the manner in which the story is to be related, along with an investment in imagination on the part of the audience. The result elevates the tale to one which transfers the action beyond the stage and into the imagination of those watching, much like a great radio mystery but with the visual spectacle of a stage performance. Arthur cedes the role of himself to the hired actor, providing narration and portraying the few various others he met during his ordeal.
As Arthur, Stephen Price delivers an ordinary man drawn into a very extraordinary circumstance. As local men, he transforms in mannerisms and speech, deftly displaying dramatic range and substance. As both the actor and the actor's version of a younger Arthur, Kareem Badr embodies the suspense and terror of the events that play out before us. A brooding sense of solitude is evoked by the fact the events are played out by only these two men. And then, there is the Woman in Black.
The Scottish Rite Theatre is as old as Austin itself. Emily Rankin's direction transforms it from a historic performance hall into a foggy salt marsh, a Gothic mansion, a desolate cemetery, and a lonely causeway. Expert lighting by Patrick Anthony's, Davis Boss' sound, and Christopher Conard's scenery captivates the senses.