Blithe Spirit | Review
Noel Coward‘s popular play Blithe Spirit is enjoying another revival as it tours the UK ahead of its March opening at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London. The Theatre Royal Brighton played host to this supernatural classic comedy last week to very appreciative audiences.
Searching for inspiration for his new book, author Charles Condomine invites local eccentric Madame Arcati to perform a seance at a dinner party hosted by himself and his wife Ruth with guests Doctor and Mrs Bradman. He expects the pychic to be a fraud but is proved wrong when she conjures up his beautiful yet manipulative first wife Elvira. Only Charles can see and hear Elvira which provides much of the comedy as his conversations with her are often misconstrued by his current wife. As Elvira makes herself at home once more Blithe Spirit explores the impracticalities of having a wife come back from the dead. A fiendishly love triangle ensues.
Initially shocked by the appearance of Elvira, Charles, ably played by Geoffrey Streatfeild soon schemes to take advantage of the situation as the sparring wives Ruth (Lisa Dillon) and Elvira (Emma Naomi) eventually realise they are not as different as they originally thought.
The pivotal role of Mme. Arcati has been played by some of the theatrical greats of all time and for this production, it is TV star Jennifer Saunders who steps into the eccentric’s shoes. She delights the audience with a Mme Arcati fairly reminiscent of her Absolutely Fabulous character Edina. She rambles, drinks rather too much alcohol and has dubious personal hygiene, it is no wonder that she was cast in the role, you half expected Joanna Lumley to stroll onto the set.
Blithe Spirit is a testament to Coward’s observation of human behaviour regarding love and loyalty when faced with past relationships. This ‘improbable farce’ (his words, not mine) is as relevant today as it was when it was written and will bring joy to those who will watch it in generations to come.
Reviewer: Sammi O’Neill
5th March – 13th April 2020