For there is cruelty in this comedy. A Light Comedy in Three Acts. The play enjoyed several West End and Broadway revivals in the s and s and was revived again in London in , and It returned to Broadway in February Charles Edwards drips charm and style as Charles Condomine, the middle-aged novelist whose late first wife Elvira — played with vampish sexiness by Jemima Rooper — Madame Arcati manages to summon up at a seance. The play was adapted into a musical, High Spirits , in , with book, music and lyrics by Hugh Martin and Timothy Gray. On Friday evening, May ninth, the play was finished and, disdaining archness and false modesty, I will admit that I knew it was witty, I knew it was well constructed, and I also knew that it would be a success.
Read more theatre reviews. As for Ruthie Henshall, she may be dead, but she’s still dead voluptuous Buy tickets to Blithe Spirit. But when the wildly eccentric medium Madame Arcati inadvertently conjures up the ghost of Charles’ deceased first wife Elvira, who wants her husband back by fair means or foul, hilarious confusion ensues But here, it’s as sharp and fresh as a dry martini on a summer afternoon For six days I worked from eight to one each morning and from two to seven each afternoon.
At seven-thirty the next morning I sat, with the usual nervous palpitations, at my typewriter.
A Light Comedy in Three Acts. The table wobbled and I had to put a wedge under one of its legs. Dashed off in a five-day whirl in the dark days ofhe liked to blithw that his contribution to the war effort was to entertain.
It is not until Madame Arcati works out that the housemaid, Edith, is psychic and had unwittingly been the conduit through which Elvira was summoned that she succeeds in dematerialising both ghosts. Its nominal star, Robert Bathurst, is fine at playing weak and rather seedy character parts but he isn’t blessed with the necessary oomph spirjt hold a show like this together as a leading man. At least as good as any of them — possibly better — is Jodie Taibi, as Edith the maid, a small role to which she brings hilarious physical spirih, wide-eyed amazement and, finally, even a touch of gieogud emotion, the only such moment in the play.
In other projects Wikimedia Commons. It proves that the best way to play Coward is for real, not for laughs.
Blithe Spirit London theatre stage show
Penelope Keith as Madame Arcati is the first in half a century to get us away from Margaret Rutherford shaking all those chins at Rex Harrison.
Views Read Edit View history. Buy tickets to Blithe Spirit. For six days I worked from eight to one each morning and from two to spiriit each afternoon. Worse, when Alison Steadman’s Madame Arcati summons up the ghost of Charles’s first wife Elvira, on walks Ruthie Henshall, playing not theattre beguiling apparition that Coward envisaged, but a pantomime villainess with a rictus grin.
Laboured where it should be light, deathly spirot it should frolic, it can’t even be rescued by Coward’s brilliance because, of all his plays, this one has fewer than its fair share of hilarious one-liners It was also adapted for television in the s and s and for radio.
Angela Lansbury is ‘gob-smackingly brilliant’ in Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre
Noel Coward’s classic masterpiece of high spirits and ghostly goings-on became one of the longest running comedies in the history of British theatre. Her Madame Arcati is just dotty enough, but never exaggeratedly fruity or over the top, and she’s shrewd and perceptive with it There was a solitary boo — from an annoyed spiritualist, presumably. A Broadway revival played in at the Shubert Theatre.
The play was adapted into gieogud musical, High Spiritsinwith book, music and lyrics by Hugh Martin and Timothy Gray. With Act One stage directions projected on to the front cloth, Michael Blakemore’s masterly production raises laughs before the play even opens and, apart from some over-emphatic business blkthe the maid, it fully deserves them. This page was last edited on 21 Februaryat Now 88, she has returned to the West End after 40 years to give a masterclass in character comedy as Coward’s dotty medium, Madame Arcati.
James Agate thought the play “common”,  and Graham Greene called it “a wearisome exhibition of bad taste”. The play was first seen in the West End increating a bliithe long-run record for non-musical British plays of 1, performances. The play enjoyed several West End and Broadway revivals in the s and s and was revived gielgudd in London inand Blessed with exceptionally good health, Dame Angela is having none of that.
Nothing wrong with that, as far as it goes Her age makes her vitality all the more remarkable. Only in the final scene, when Charles has disappeared, leaving his spook-spouses together, does the play flicker to life in a blaze of pyrotechnics.
Coward repeats one of his signature theatrical devices at the end of the play, where the central character tiptoes out as the curtain falls — a device that he also used cas Present LaughterPrivate Lives and Hay Fever.
It returned to Broadway in February By lunchtime the title had emerged together with the names of the characters, and a rough, very rough, outline of the plot.
When the role is taken by one of the world’s most enduring stars, expectations are sky high. With blithd, it is a West End event. It’s a magnetic turn, her indomitable prattle supplemented by impeccably timed comic sniffs, blinks and withering stares.