11 June 2011

Blithe Spirit at the Apollo Theatre

Blithe Spirit is an absolute gem that delights throughout and reassures you that ghosts can be sexy as well as scary.

The clue that you are in for a good night comes from the phrase "by Noel Coward" who certainly know how to write a good story as I discovered with Hay Fever at The Rose last year.

The story is quite simple. An author in search of a plot asks the local clairvoyant to dinner and to perform so that he can see the tricks of the trade. In the seance he makes contact with his former wife who is then conjured back in to a half life where only he can see and hear her, to other people she is invisible and mute.

A lot of the humour derives from this situation but Coward also has fun with the characters and their foibles along the way.

To make best use of good characters you need good actors, and this production does.

Alison Steadman plays the rumbustious and somewhat dotty clairvoyant with exuberance.

Robert Bathurst is utterly convincing as the feckless author and husband who is never in control of the situation.

I only know Hermione Norris from her ruthless role in Spooks so it is with a lot of credit that she morphs successfully in to a suave lady of leisure.

But missing from the poster is the real star of the show, Ruthie Henshall who plays the ghost.

Ruthie sizzles on stage as she weaves her mischief. Every movement, gesture and look is gleeful and sprightly, particularly when she plays with the people who cannot see her. And she looks fantastic too.

After the extreme disappointment with Betrayal just a few days before it was good to have my faith in the theatre reaffirmed with a play that delights in it own humour and carries its audience happily with it to the very end. A real treat.

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