Silchester Players - Blithe Spirit
14th to 15th September and 21st to 22nd September 2018
Review from the Newbury Weekly News.
Ghostly goings-on go on this week
Silchester Players: Blithe Spirit, at Silchester Village Hall, on Friday, September 14, Saturday, September 15, and Friday, September 21, and Saturday, September 22
What would happen if you accidentally brought your late wife back to life during a dinner party? It's a topic explored in Blithe Spirit, a Noel Coward classic comedy from the 1930s, which was staged by Silchester Players last week at the village hall.
The unlikely tale focuses on author Charles Condomine and his wife Ruth, who invite a slightly muddled medium (Madame Arcati) to hold a séance in their home as source material for a new novel Charles is writing. The evening goes disastrously wrong, of course, and Charles's first wife Elvira appears from beyond the grave, spreading chaos and mayhem throughout the household.
Brian Gillett arid Sarah Oliver were very well cast as Charles and Ruth, both mastering the wordy, but witty, dialogue in scenes that ranged from playful banter to waspish sniping.
Lisa Neville, as the ethereal Elvira, gave an excellent performance – she clearly relished the playful character of the first wife on a quest to win her husband back, her expression constantly changing as she delighted in her own mischief.
Nick Lock and Amanda Albrecht provided nice cameos as the Condomines' friends Dr and Mrs Bradman, Amanda capturing the doctor's wife's penchant for conversational faux pas. Faith Albrecht's over-zealous maid Edith was very well portrayed, while Caroline Martin as Madame Arcati threw herself energetically into the role, filling the stage with mystical eccentricity.
Famously, the eighth member of the Blithe Spirit cast is the set, which provides a lively finale to the production. Silchester's stage was well-dressed, with some nice period fittings. However, it seemed a little cluttered with furniture. This was a shame as the action around the entrance and séance table felt slightly crowded, and Edith's comic dashes to the door weren't always easy to see.
That aside, this was a very enjoyable production – Keith Graham's direction was polished and pacey and Tim Oliver's backstage team provided slick support throughout.