Robert Bathurst & Hemione Norris
22 November 2010 WOS Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews Thea Sharrock’s production of Coward’s Blithe Spirit is very good. There’s always a problem with staging classic comedy – do you opt for a strictly traditional approach, or tilt the whole thing in a completely new direction? Sharrock has opted for a sort of flick-tilt, abetted by an excellent Art Déco set and spot-on late 1930s costumes ( Hildegard Bechtler).
Madame Arcati is such a marvellous grotesque that the actress playing her tends to run away with the whole show. Here she’s played by
Alison Steadman with a judicious blend of down-to-earth countrywoman – sensible daytime tweeds and that seven-mile bicycle ride – and professional seer – wispy hair, Bohemian bonnet and droopy zigzag draperies inrusty browns and black .It’s an applause-garnering performance, but the rest of the cast measures up to it.
The two Condomine wives are a nice study in contrasts.
Hermione Norris’ Ruth is both svelte and edgy, slithering from the one to the other with ever-tightening mouth and sharper steel in her eyes. Ruthie Henshall as Elvira is an ethereal minx in grey chiffon and lace negligee, pirouetting around her successor as though on hot coals. Robert Bathurst' Charles is every inch the successful suave author, manipulating people with great aplomb with the professional partygoer’s knack of efficient wriggling out of awkward situations.
Edith, the Condomimes’ cack-handed, flat-footed maid is given something more than just a comic-turn portrait by
Jodie Taibi. The cracks in the Bradman marriage are scarcely papered over by Charlotte Thornton as the wife who lacks some of the social tact necessary to fulfil her role as a doctor’s wife and Bo Poran as her husband, a man whose bedside manner is perhaps dictated by the thickness of his patients’ wallets. - by Anne Morley-Priestman Related Content
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