Interview: Antony Eden from The Woman in Black

Are you a big fan of horror yourself? 
I love horror, and yes, despite performing in the most terrifying production, and knowing all the scare techniques, I’m still able to be scared. It’s all about investing yourself in the moment. If you allow your imagination to get involved, you’ll be scared.

What exactly is The Woman in Black about?
The Woman in Black is a spirit of a woman, that has an extremely malevolent influence on those around. A young man who has everything in front of him is sent to the old house, and encounters her. She has an extremely profound effect on his life, for the worse. That said, there is no ‘baddie’ in this story. In the end, you have so much empathy for The Woman in Black, because of her back story.

Are there any scare techniques used on stage but not in film?
I love horror films, but it’s a very different beast in theater. What theater relies on is your imagination, especially the way the whole play is set up, which is very simple, but very effective. Each audience member creates his own spooky house, his own horror story, whereas in film you can go and see the marsh, and walk around the house.

What’s your best memory in theater? 
For me, my best memories have been with The Woman in Black. I saw the play when I was 15 years old, and was so taken with it that I wrote to Robin Herford (the director) and Susan Hill (the novelist), asking to put it on at school. I think that was the first amateur production of the play, and I played the same role I do now. The reactions from the students were so incredible. Now, I’ve played the same role for half my life, and I just love how the reactions from the audiences are so extreme, every time.

The show’s been around for so long now. What about it still excites you?
I’ve done more than 700 performances of this show, and Robin has lived with it for 25 years. Something that keeps people coming back to it, is the incredible relationship between the audience and the actors. It’s important in all theater, but is something this particular play does extremely successfully – it creates a bond that results is such great reaction.

Do you think the show still does justice to the original novella by Susan Hill?
Absolutely, it’s very, very close – in fact when the story is being told there is not a word that is not Susan.

Three words to describe The Woman in Black?
Hilarious, dramatic and terrifying.

The Woman in Black shows at the Kallang Theatre Dec 11-15. Tickets are $58-$128 from Sistic.