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Based on Susan Hill's 1983 novel The Woman in Black, Stephen Mallatratt's stage play of the same name debuted in 1987 and was a big hit. The play takes the form of a rehearsal, performed by an elder Arthur Kipps (the protagonist of the book) and a single other Actor.
Because of the narrative style of the play, all the parts except for Kipps's own are performed by the actor playing the elder Kipps. Kipps's own role is played by the other Actor. However, during the play, a third actor appears briefly, performing the part of the Woman in Black; her appearance is not commented on until the end of the play. In a callback to the funeral scene, when the young Kipps sees the Woman but nobody else does, the final scene of the play has the Actor, out of character, asking the elder Kipps who played the Woman in Black. Scared, Kipps responds that he did not see a woman on the stage. It is understood that the Woman is now haunting the elder Kipps again, since he has made her story public. Bringing the story out of the fantastic and into the mundane, the final scene summarizes the entire story while adding a layer of doubt; was there truly a Woman in Black, either in Kipps's story or in real life?
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