20 years before the 2004 LEP version was this production of Blithe Spirit well directed by Helen Clark (1984)
The smash comedy hit of the London and Broadway stages, this much-revived classic from the playwright of Private Lives offers up fussy, cantankerous novelist Charles Condomine, re-married but haunted (literally) by the ghost of his late first wife, the clever and insistent Elvira who is called up by a visiting “happy medium,” one Madame Arcati. As the (worldly and un-) personalities clash, Charles’ current wife, Ruth, is accidentally killed, “passes over,” joins Elvira, and the two “blithe spirits” haunt the hapless Charles into perpetuity.
Edith - Kath Gill
Ruth - Mary Cleare
Charles - Charles Jackson
Doctor Bradman - Baron Dibble
Mrs Bradman - Sheila Keatinge
Madame Arcati - Alison Edgley
Elvira - Eve Berry
"Strong cast with Spirit"
(Bucks Free Press review by J.M.R.)
A fitting close to this year's drama productions in the Wycombe festival was provided by the Lane End Players last week with three performances of Noel Coward's sparkling comedy Blithe Spirit produced by Helen Clark.
Wisely steering clear of the trap of trying to emulate the master she allowed the players full rein to portray the characters accurately yet sympathetically and the result was a pleasing and entertaining performance to capacity audiences. A strong cast was almost outstaged by Kath Gill who gave a brilliant performance as the impetuous maid, so that audience looked eagerly for her next appearance.
Mary Cleare and Charles Jackson have become accustomed to playing opposite each other and in this production were perfect foils as the jealous second wife and unwitting dabbler in the occult.
The play opens with a good deal of back of the stager speaking from Charles, difficult for the amateur but he handled it well and managed to project to the rear of the hall.
Madame Arcati's role is so much Margaret Rutherford's that a lesser player than Alison Edgley might have been daunted by the part. Her interpretation inevitably owed something to the prototype, but was magnificently sustained throughout a copious intake of cucumber sandwiches.
Eve Berry, as Elvira, brought just the right amount of ethereal roguishness to her part and was able to convey a sense of invisibility which the other players credibly supported by looking through her rather than at her.
This is play which depends a great deal upon sound an visual effects, all of which were perfectly managed by John Trett, Geoff Brown and Paul Brown.
The final scene with its mischievous poltergeist effects was a joy to behold and the set the seal on a performance which was a worthy contribution to the festival.
Lane End Village Hall
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