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October 2018

Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward

By Kevin Wilson - Thursday October 18, 2018

One look at the set and you could tell it was going to be a good night at the theatre.

The CAODS production of Blithe Spirit at Trinity Theatre was a real team effort, on and off stage.

Lighting, scene changes, costume, special effects  and that splendid set (amazingly completed only the day before because of theatre hire bookings)  complemented a spirited performance (see what we did there?) by actors who were clearly enjoying playing their part in continuing the remarkable longevity of Noel Coward's comedy hit.

From the magnificently eccentric portrayal of Madame Arcati, played with more than a hint of Hyacinth Bucket (or should that be Bouquet?) by Cheryl May, to the floaty ethereal Elvira (Ness Law), the cast did a brilliant job.

The standard was set from the off by a poised and perfectly frosty Carolyn Ferguson as Ruth Condomine, and the comical maid Edith - probably the only character in the play we could actually feel any fondness for - played by Dinah Bowman. Dinah and Carolyn performed admirably, especially considering that they had to step in to co-direct the play after Alex Quilter was taken ill. They did a fine job, too, helped in no small measure by very slick scene changes and some nice staging.

Steve Taverner looked very relaxed and in complete control as the suave and rather too smooth Charles Condomine, whose feathers were soon ruffled by the spooky arrival of his first wife Elvira - a nice moment, this, as Ness Law almost sprang onto the stage in a startling sparkly outfit.

Cheryl May was great and just the right amount over the top as Madame Arcati - a part to die for, but not an easy one to do well - and added so much to the role with her movement. Steve Kimpton as the rather cynical Doctor Bradman, and his gushing wife, played to great effect by Sarah Kellett, completed the line up of Coward's play - written in six days, and regularly performed for almost 80 years.

It's become something of a classic - a play most people know. So it is very much to CAODS credit that they managed to give it life (if that's the right expression), and - thanks to that teamwork and direction - also give it pace.

Coward is sometimes so effortlessly slick and wordy that it can become wearing, but this production avoided that pitfall.

This production was a credit to the company, including the front of house team who made this reviewer feel very welcome!