The Wicked Lady
The Wicked Lady, Birmingham's own Woman in Black, opens in spine-chilling style at the Blue Orange Theatre.
Live theatre, arguably more than any other art form, has the power to unite. There's a powerful sense of togetherness when you're part of an audience sat in the darkness watching something unique unfold before your eyes. And there's nothing which unites us quite like fear. It's a curious emotion to actively seek but the adrenaline spike it provides is addictive and the world premiere of this new play won't disappoint anyone looking for a fright-filled night of fearful fun.
The Wicked Lady, written and directed by James Williams, delivers on its promise of a spine-chilling theatrical experience and is the perfect post-pandemic production to bring audiences together and reopen this independent Jewellery Quarter theatre in Birmingham.
Nicki Davy and Saul Bache play Alice Beaumont and Sean Fenton, a ghost skeptic and a police sergeant who are brought together by the disappearance of a local six year old girl. Events soon take a supernatural turn when a possible sighting of the missing girl is made at the Markyate Cell estate in Hertfordshire, an area linked to the legend of The Wicked Lady.
Anticipation is key to the success of any ghost story and this production kept the audience in an almost constant state of suspense. Lighting and sound (Alex Johnson and Dan Clarkson) is cleverly used throughout the play to heighten the tension without detracting from the storytelling.
The wicked lady of the title was a real woman, Katherine Ferrers, who was born in 1634 to a wealthy family. Tragedy plagued her young life and by the time she reached adulthood she had been orphaned and abandoned by her husband. Williams' writing neatly weaves the legend of this Hertfordshire highwaywoman, who was shot in 1660, into a modern day investigation full of dark twists and turns. Knowing that stories of Lady Katherine's ghost haunting Markyate Cell are still told today adds an unsettling realism to events as they unfold on stage.
Sustaining the tension required to continue gripping an audience in a two-hander is demanding but both actors rise to the challenge here. Saul Bache's enigmatic police sergeant, who begs Alice to assist with the investigation into the missing girl, is convincing. But it is Nicki Davy's performance as Alice, who we follow to Markyate on her investigation to disprove the existence of a ghost, which stands out. Her emotional journey from defensive skeptic to terrified victim is entirely believable and dramatically powerful.
Why travel down to London and pay top whack for a theatrical ghost story when Birmingham has this quality production on offer? The Wicked Lady delivers in fun and fright-filled style and she's waiting. Will you see her?
The Wicked Lady is playing at the Blue Orange Theatre from 1st to 16th October 2021.