By Steph Lam
Blithe Spirit is a comedic play that follows Charles Condomime as he invites the medium, Madame Arcati, to conduct a séance, hoping to collect material for his new novel. Unfortunately for him, she brings back his deceased wife, Elvira, from the spirit world and her ghost mischievously proceeds to cause havoc in his marriage, exploiting the fact that Charles is the only one who can see or hear her.
Lion Theatre Company’s rendition of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit does full justice to the comedic power of the play and offers its audience an evening of brilliant entertainment.
Even before the play began, the directors, Tyler Rainford and Erica Powell, had the audience laughing by deciding to have the usual announcement to switch off your mobile phones in a child’s voice, the child in question stumbling adorably over the words. And so two and a bit hours of hilarity began.
The play begins with an illusory sense of normality as two pairs of couples chit chat away about their skepticism about Madame Arcati’s powers. But a sense of inevitable chaos asserts itself as Olivia Race, who plays the medium, steps onto the stage.
Playing the part of an eccentric woman with admirable integrity from beginning to end, Race’s presence was always a guarantee of a good laugh for the audience. Her rendition of a ‘trance’ is particularly memorable, involving a dramatic collapse to the floor with a mouth hanging wide open. The earnest facial expressions that Race sustains whilst conducting her ‘séance’ were incredible in their own right, but the stiff expressions from the other cast members sealed the deal so that the séance scenes formed some of the funniest moments of the play.
In general, the sense of rapport within the cast and their clear deliverance of every line ensured that no potential comedy was lost and the energy onstage was well-sustained throughout the play. Aisha Bennett as Ruth admirably portrayed her character, a fiery woman, with aggressive body language and a comedic pomposity. The hostility between her and Clarissa Lonsdale as Elvira also created many comic moments in the play and the speed and comfort with which this tension falls away at the end of the play, as the characters form a friendship, is testament to the actresses’ talent and work. Lonsdale as Elvira also individually delivers a charismatic performance of a sly woman with a wicked sense of humour.
Matt Todd as Charles Condomime also deserves applause for the genuine sense of chemistry that he maintains with both of his onstage wives and he manages to give off an aura of real evil at the end of the play, as his character transforms entirely.
Technical aspects are kept simple in this play, but one feels that this does not detract power from the play at all.
Overall, this play deserves a full audience on its performance dates and I would thoroughly recommend it. It would be a pity to miss out on an excellent performance of Blithe Spirit delivered right to your doorstep.
Photographer: Amy Price