Worthing company on the road with The Woman In White

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Worthing’s Dionysus Theatre is on the road for its second-ever tour, this time with a stage adaptation of the classic Victorian thriller The Woman in White, a tempestuous tale of love, betrayal and greed.

The tour has three dates in Sussex with evening performances at 7.45pm on July 12 and 13 at The Players Theatre, Hurstpierpoint and on August 3 at The Barn Theatre, Southwick. After playing Sussex The Woman in White heads off to London, Wiltshire and Kent.

It’s an important moment for the company, says company founder Robert Tremayne who is playing the villainous Count Fosco in the piece.

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Walter Hartright’s life is changed forever after a chance encounter with a mysterious woman, dressed all in white, who is desperate to reveal her chilling secret. When he takes up his position as drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie and her half-sister, Marian, he sees in Laura’s face an eerie reflection of the forlorn creature he met previously…

Robert Tremayne (contributed pic)Robert Tremayne (contributed pic)
Robert Tremayne (contributed pic)

Walter and Laura’s feelings for each other are thwarted by her engagement to the sinister Sir Percival Glyde. The arrival of the charming yet devious Count Fosco begins a chilling chain of events...

“We are based in Worthing and we rehearse in Worthing but we originally started in Brighton. We started during lockdown as a group of actors that just really missed each other. We set up zoom calls and we had readings of plays and we stumbled on The Seagull and when lockdown was lifted we thought let's do it. That was our first production in 2021 and last year we reinvented it and took it on tour.”

The company is now well established: “I am always overwhelmed by the people that I've got with me. But the fact is that it all comes from love. It's not a trial for anybody. We enjoy each other's company and we enjoy performing and I know it sounds cliched but we are a real family. I could not be prouder of what we have done and of what we have achieved especially as it all self-funded. As I say, we just do it through love. This is production number seven but the second year that we are touring.

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“I saw The Woman In White years and years ago and I saw it first as a play and I just fell in love with it. The story is so captivating and it's got one of the best villains that there's ever been in Count Fosco. You just feel drawn to it. It doesn't feel like a Dickens where you feel that you are reading a Dickens. Each bit of it is done from the perspective of the different characters and it just cries out to be performed. We've got a cast of seven and we're going from a book that has something like 60-plus characters so it's big decisions about what are we going to lose and what are we going to keep but I hope that this version has the same feeling that I had when I first watched it.

“Delving deeper into it I found that it was the first novel that caused mass panic. People were amazed and there was actually merchandise for it. There were Woman In White parasols and Woman In White perfumes. And there was all the talk ‘Have you read it?’ It really got to people and I think it was a turning point. The crux of the book is Laura's struggle when she becomes married and I think the book was actually a social turning point.”