Charles Condomine (Charles Edwards) lives in a pleasantly large house with his second wife Ruth (Charlotte Parry). His first wife Elvira (Jemima Rooper) died young. As research for a book he's writing, Charles invites local medium Madame Arcati (Lansbury) to perform a sťance at his home. Initially, there seems to have been no result from the event, but shortly afterwards, Charles starts seeing and hearing Elvira's ghost. He'll have to act quickly to save his marriage with Ruth, but Elvira has plans of her own.
Lansbury is exactly as you would expect as Arcati: charming and deft with her comedic delivery. Although clearly the audience is there to see her, she doesn't deliver a self-indulgent performance. She's there to serve the play, and she does so very well. A recurring bit where she goes into a trance is a bit shtick-y, but this is a quibble. Edwards is superb as Charles, and Parry is every bit his equal. Rooper is delightful as Elvira, finding just the right tone for the troublesome spirit.
Director Michael Blakemore gets terrific work from his entire cast, shown off to great effect in Simon Higlett's handsome living room set. The pyrotechnics and special effects at the play's conclusion are a nice touch. Coward's play still holds up brilliantly, bolstered by an ingenious premise and memorable characters, although, as always, his dialogue is the true star. If this production hasn't already sold out, acquiring tickets to attend it would be one the best presents you could get or give this holiday season.
Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Steve Traxler, Lee Dean, John Frost, Charles Diamond, Will Trice in association with Ken Davenport, Kathleen K. Johnson and Jam Theatricals present Blithe Spirit by NoŽl Coward. Directed by Michael Blakemore. Scenic Design Simon Higlett; Lighting Design Mark Jonathan; Sound Design Ben and Max Ringham; Costume Design Martin Pakledinaz & Bill Butler; Production Stage Manager John M. Atherlay.
- Terry Morgan