Review - Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward, The Midhurst Players
This is a delightful play which was performed by the Midhurst Players with zest, pace and a sensitive appreciation of the period and style needed to bring the humour of the piece fully to life.
The direction by Nicci Pennicott was of a high standard, imaginative and effective, creating some wonderful visual images and working with the characters and script to make the most of the comic potential of the text. The relationships were delightfully and believably established and the momentum had pace, wit and purpose.
This play has some of the theatre’s most memorable characters and the audience were treated to an impressive cast but with three performances of a quite outstanding quality.
Tim Ashworth as Charles Condomine attacked the role with such confidence, dramatic size, energy and verve thus lifting the level of performance and engaging the audience from the very beginning. He was superbly matched by Sarah-Jayne Steed as the divine and tantalising Elvira, who looked quite beautiful and captured the elusive and seductive qualities of the character to perfection; moving with such ease that she seemed to float from move to move, no easy task, even when playing a spirit
The part of Madame Arcarti is always a challenge as so many great actors have played the role before, and a little like Lady Bracknell, the risk of comparison is always a possibility. Lena Hill created an entirely original and totally believable eccentric, from her first entrance she brought the character and text to life, her outrageous costumes adding to the comic potential of the character and ensuing dramatic situation. Lena’s energy and zest in portraying the role were a delight once again lifting the level of performance with each entrance.
Noel Coward’s comedy is much harder to achieve than might be apparent, and when done well the challenges are not always fully appreciated. This production was of a very high standard, the remaining cast of Matthew Harding, Julie Tickner, Katie Griffiths and Chloe Beauvois-Eames, fully focused, working generously together to create a real feel of the period. The audience relished the joy of the text, characters and situation and obviously loved the production.
Steve Diver’s lighting and the special effects, particularly at the end, were superb and added to the visual delight of this truly successful and praiseworthy production.
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