Monday, 14 April 2014

Review - Blithe Spirit


IT'S not often that a theatre audience applauds the mere entrance of one of the actors on to the stage.
But it's not often that a national treasure and theatrical legend who has been away from the British stage for a while comes back with a sparkle and spring in her step.
Said actress is Oscar-winner and five-time Tony Award-winner Dame Angela Lansbury who is currently starring on the London stage for the first time in about 40 years.
The British-born actress is playing Madame Arcati in Noel Coward's somewhat absurd comedy Blithe Spirit. Written during World War Two, it is the story of novelist and socialite Charles Condomine who invites the eccentric medium and clairvoyant, Madame Arcati, to supper one evening to conduct a seance in the hope it might provide material for his new book.
The evening proves to have life changing consequences for Charles and his second wife Ruth with the arrival of his first wife Elvira who is summoned back from the dead by Madame Arcati.
Elvira is somewhat temperamental and annoying and does as much as she can to wreak havoc in the Condomine home.
This current revival on at the Gielgud in Shaftesbury Avenue, sees Dame Angela on sparkling form. She inhabits the personna of Madame Arcati to perfection, dripping in jewels, a bohemian attire, a no nonsense approach to proceedings and downing dry martinis with aplomb.
It is a glorious performance and she is riveting to watch.
But credit must also go to the rest of the seven-strong cast and those who are responsible for the special effects.
Charles Edwards, one of this country's finest and yet underrated actors, is deliciously smug and suave as Charles Condomine. Janie Dee and Jemima Roper are fabulous as Ruth and Elvira respectively and Patsy Ferran, in her stage debut, is brilliant as the maid.
But it is Dame Angela everyone has come to see - only having to enter the stage and receive a round of applause without uttering a word - and she doesn't disappoint.

Blithe Spirit is on at the Gielgud Theatre until Saturday, June 7. Tickets from £12.25. Call the box office on 0844 482 5130.

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