As a theatre blogger my focus tends to be on new writing and revivals of lesser known plays. It was therefore a lot of fun to go see a show that I’m very familiar with, particularly one that is as effervescent as Blithe Spirit.
This was my first visit to the Tower Theatre in Stoke Newington, and if you’ve never been before it is well worth checking out, as it is an unusual and beautiful space, with really comfy seats (heaven). If you go to the theatre as often as I do, discovering a new (to me) venue is comfortable never gets old.
First impressions were great as Jude Chalk has created a wonderfully detailed and evocative set. It definitely put me in the mood for the show ahead, which did not disappoint. The cast are uniformly fabulous, and clearly relish the opportunity to get there teeth into this wonderfully absurd comedy. Most productions I’ve seen in the past have involved some kind of celebrity casting, and I rather enjoyed not having the distraction, allowing me to be absorbed by the power of a strong collective cast.
Alison Liney gives an enjoyably robust performance as our oddball Madame Arcati. You could imagine her living an alternative life as an eccentric hockey teacher at a very proper all girls school. She left me craving cucumber sandwiches. Myriam Laurent’s Edith is all limbs and awkwardness, adding to the humour every time she appears on stage.
There is a great chemistry between the central trio of Charles, Ruth and Elvira, played with great verve by David Hankinson, Anna Fiorentini and Sophie King respectively. The weight of the story falls on their able shoulders, and their performances sparkle with energy and humour. Even the smaller parts of Dr Bradman and Mrs Bradman, played by Alistair Maydon and Louisa Shindle, are perfectly cast and delivered. I was particularly taken with Louisa Shindle’s wide-eyed comic delivery.
Director Dan Usztan’s production definitely charms and makes for a very fun night out. He takes full advantage of his talented cast to bring this story to life with humour while showing great respect to the source material, allowing Coward’s wonderful play to fizz and amuse, as it should.
Blithe Spirit is running at the Tower Theatre until 2nd November, and I’d definitely recommend it those who enjoy Coward’s plays.