Blithe SpiritNovember 2013
Blithe Spirit - by Noel Coward
Performed - Wed 6th to Sat 9th November 2013 at Blackfriars Theatre, Boston
Charles Condomine, a successful novelist, wishes to learn about the occult for a novel he is writing, and he arranges for an eccentric medium, Madame Arcati, to hold a séance at his house. At the séance, she inadvertently summons Charles's first wife, Elvira, who has been dead for seven years. The neurotic Elvira then causes havoc in the relationship between Charles and his second wife, the pretentious Ruth. As the worldly and unworldly personalities clash, Charles' current wife Ruth is accidentally killed, "passes over", joins Elvira and the two "blithe spirits" haunt the hapless Charles into perpetuity.
In the Director’s Note for this production, Kei Bailey mentions his admiration for Noel Coward’s work and the special appeal that this particular play has for him. Drawing on his considerable skill and extensive experience Kei succeeds in drawing out and combining excellent performances from his production team.
Written in 1941, the plot of this popular comedy centres on séances conducted by the extrovert, though not necessarily competent medium, Madame Arcati, brilliantly played in this production by Frances Sabey.
Other cast members were Danny Chester-Bush (as Charles Condomine), Melissa Marlowe (as Charles’ first wife Elvira), Rachel Pick (as Charles’ second wife Ruth), Matthew Barnes (as Dr Bradman), Rachel Rowett (as Mrs Bradman) and Jo Carling (as the maid Edith) – all of whom are deserving of praise for their superb performances.
The clarity of speech from the entire cast was most impressive. Paul Gibson’s cleverly designed set made good use of the available stage space and was on full view to the audience as they entered the auditorium.
Costumes were most appropriate to the period when people dressed for dinner. Support from the efficient stage crew contributed significantly to maintaining the pace of this production. This was superlative entertainment with much attention to detail; I particularly appreciated the choice of incidental music. Absolutely delightful!
Peter Breach NODA 08/11/2013
In order of appearance, actors names on right:
Edith (the maid) - Jo Carling
Ruth Condomine - Rachel Pick
Charles Condomine - Danny Chester-Bush
Doctor Bradman - Matt Barnes
Mrs Bradman - Rachel Rowett
Madame Arcati - Frances Sabey
Elvira - Melissa Marlowe
Director - Kei Bailey
Stage Manager - Jacob Moore
Set Designer - Paul Gibson
Set Construction - Chris Hunt, Paul Gibson, Lucy Taylor, Stuart Wyle, Kei Bailey
Stage Crew - Jon Molson, Lucy Taylor, Chris Hunt, Megan Rodgers,
Costumes - Elaine Marshall, Violet Truelove Wardrobe
Properties - Alma Watts, Lucy Taylor
Lighting - Malcolm Billing
Sound - Paul Gibson
Programme & Poster Design - Melissa Marlowe
Publicity - Mike Sheridan-Shinn
Photography - Han Edwards Photography