Review: Blithe Spirit, by TIPPS

PUBLISHED: 14:20 31 October 2019

The seance scene in Blithe Spirit. Picture: Shân Merritt

The seance scene in Blithe Spirit. Picture: Shân Merritt

Shân Merritt

For their autumn production at Tipton St John Community Hall TIPPS chose to present that all-time haunting comedy Blithe Spirit, written by Noel Coward and directed by Yvonne Kellett.

The curtains opened to an attractive set suitably decorated and dressed for the period, and the humour of the piece established as the ungainly maid weaved her way from the hall carrying, rather unsteadily, a large tray of cocktail items.

Regulars in the audience would have been pleased to see familiar faces from the group on stage as the characters were introduced and the plot unfolded.

Writer Charles Condomine invites Madame Arcarti, a local medium, to conduct a seance at his home, for background for his next book.

Making up the party with Charles and his second wife Ruth are Dr and Mrs Bradman, and as the evening progresses his first wife Elvira returns from the dead, and proceeds to create mayhem.

Ruth and Elvira, played by Becca Simmins and Claire Martin, were effectively cast, and poles apart. Ruth was smart-looking and organised, but domineering and acerbic, while Elvira was ethereal, mischievous and flirty.

Michael Gascoigne-Pees was spot on as the Doctor, grounded and sceptical - he had seen it all before - and was well accompanied by Mo Mylne as his slightly dotty wife Violet.

Madame Arcarti was the perfect role for Vivienne Gascoigne-Pees; she embraced the part with relish and looked perfectly divine. Mark Reader put his own stamp on the role of the irascible Charles, managing to play the perfect host while juggling divided loyalties, and the scenes between him and Elvira worked well.

Completing the cast, Emily Poulteney did sterling work as the inept maid, who did everything at the double, but proved to be the catalyst to the plot at the end.

Lighting and sound were in the capable hands of Eddie Simmons, the set well designed by Linda Williams and Paul Kinson and costumes worked for the era - the ghostly two-piece for Ruth was a clever touch. An ambitious undertaking for TIPPS but, as always with Coward, there is a never failing talent to amuse.

'TRICIA BARCLAY

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