The Year 8s had a fantastic, packed day out in London this week, visiting the National Gallery, lunching at Zizzi’s in Covent Garden and watching the play “The Woman in Black” at the Fortune Theatre, one of the smallest and most intimate theatres in London. The play is full of the power of suggestion and is cleverly adapted from the novel by Susan Hill, presenting the story to the audience through two actors (and of course the ghostly, terrifying figure of the Woman in Black herself).

Many thanks to Tracey Konyu, Annabel Newcomb, Mary Alderson and Finn Harrison for helping to shepherd the Year 8s around central London!

Despite the fact that South Eastern Trains unfortunately cancelled our outward train to Charing Cross, the Year 8s remained resilient and good-humoured throughout our trip, enjoying the opportunity to do a spot of shopping in Covent Garden and savouring delicious Italian dishes during our lunch at Zizzi’s.

Unfortunately, due to our delayed arrival, we had a very short whistle-stop visit to the National Gallery but spent some time studying early 20th century portraits and other paintings dating from the era in which “The Woman in Black” is set to put us into the right frame of mind.

The Year 8s were on the edge of their seats and supported each other throughout the spine-chilling performance. It made them think about narration, the Gothic genre, theatrical sets, lighting and sound in new ways. It was fascinating for all of us to see the story, which we had previously merely read about in the pages of the novel, brought so cleverly to life.

Tilly R told me that she loved the fact that there was a story within a story in the play; Stephen Mallatratt’s adaptation of Susan Hill’s novel preserves this device but simultaneously makes it his own. Polly S told me that she was surprised by the play – the opening scenes do not give much away and you are left wondering what is to come … you are not disappointed!

Without exception, all of the pupils really enjoyed the play and were a credit to Vinehall and to their parents – passengers on our train remarked on how smart they looked and how clever they were (Hugo E diligently working away on a past paper for CE Maths impressed neighbouring passengers!) Anna M used the time spent patiently waiting on the platform at Robertsbridge station to knit part of a beautiful scarf – how enterprising!

The director of “The Woman in Black”, Robin Herford, notes that the magic of theatre is “made possibly … by that most precious and under-used of commodities, the audience’s imagination”.  Our Year 8s’ imaginations were evidently caught by the play and they left the theatre inspired and marvelling at the way in which the actors had told this terrifying story.

Emily Platt