Something is haunting the Black Box theater at George Mason University during the next few days, and those horror mavens seeking a scary pre-Halloween mood-setter need look no further than "The Woman in Black." A spooky old house, a haunted graveyard, curses and mysterious happenings -- it's all here.

Based on the 1983 novel by British author Susan Hill and adapted by Stephen Mallatratt, "The Woman in Black" is a classic Victorian-style ghost story in the vein of Henry James's "The Turn of the Screw." The play has been in continuous production in London's West End since it opened in 1989.

The story concerns a young London lawyer, Arthur Kipps, who is sent to the creaky Eel Marsh House, on the dark and stormy east coast of England, to settle the estate of the manor's recently deceased mistress. As he goes about his business, Kipps is filled with a sense of inescapable and inexplicable dread. And then he begins to glimpse the shadowy figure of a black-clad young woman with a shattered face, first at a funeral and then in a cemetery.

The local citizenry refuse to talk about the apparition, or even acknowledge it, and Kipps is left to his own devices to determine the source of his trepidation and the origins and intentions of the ghostly entity.

The GMU Players' production is directed by Jennifer Harris and features actors Jay Saunders, Sean DeFlora, Kim Eagan and Therese McNichol.

-- C. WOODROW IRVIN

Performances are at 8 p.m. tomorrow, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. The Black Box theater is on the first floor, in Room 101, of the performing arts building adjacent to the Center for the Arts on GMU's Fairfax campus, 4400 University Dr. Admission is free, but the GMU Players suggest a donation of $1. Seating is limited. For detailed directions to the theater or other information, call 703-993-1120.

Jay Saunders of the GMU Players encounters the mysterious young woman with a shattered face, played by Kim Eagan, in "The Woman in Black," Stephen Mallatratt's stage adaptation of a 1983 Victorian-style ghost story by British author Susan Hill.