Photos Reviews

Blithe Spirit

November 2015

Noel Coward's witty and entertaining play about marriage and the supernatural.

Cast:

Edith - Marie Watsham

Ruth - Clare Evans

Charles - Alan Caig

Dr Bradman - Rob Hole

Mrs Bradman - Hilary Francis

Madame Arcati - Angela Wallwork

Elvira - Kate Wannell

Production Team:

Director - Avril Pattinson

Production Manager - Maggie Butt

Stage Manager - Janine Warre

Costume - Jill Whitehouse

Hair and Makeup - Clare Philbrock

Dresser - Miriam Fishwick

Prompt - Chris Eilbeck

Lighting - Peter Tapp

Set and Publicity Design - Phil Keen

Set Construction - Peter Tapp, Simon Metters

Publicity - Maggie Butt

Sound - John Bradley

Props - Janine Warre

Photography - Bryan Wallwork

Front of House - Howard Eilbeck and team

Reviews:

From Estuary Magazine:

by the time I got to the evening of the show I could hardly contain myself!

When I first heard that Estuary Players were going to perform Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit this November I was very excited. Then when I discovered that the character of Madame Arcati was to be played by Angela Wallwork, I was even more excited and by the time I got to the evening of the show I could hardly contain myself. I’m a big comedy fan, and love things that make me laugh.

I was not disappointed. Blithe Spirit, written in 1941 to cheer up the people of Britain during the dark days of the war, is a witty play with a cast of only seven characters. It’s long, however, so those seven actors (especially the central four) have a lot of work to do. And in this Estuary Players production, boy, did they work! I take my hat off to them all.

Angela’s portrayal of Madame Arcati (an eccentric old psychic medium) was every bit as hilarious as I had hoped it would be, and she had me laughing out loud with her mystic sways and passes around the stage and the tremendous “jolly-hockeysticks-cum-spiritual” voice she had cultivated for the part.

As a foil to her eccentricity the characters of Ruth and Charles were also very well-portrayed. A relatively wealthy couple, the Condomines decide to have a seance at their house so that Charles can gather material for his writing, but they rue the consequences when Madame Arcati unwittingly conjurs up the mischievous ghost of Elvira, Charles’ late first wife.

Clare Evans and Alan Caig as the harmonious, conventional 1940s couple we meet at the beginning of the play spiralled convincingly into exasperation and bickering , although I would caution Clare about allowing her voice to become too high-pitched at times. However, she did crisp asperity very well and Alan responded with excellent timing as the hard-done-by husband.

Kate Wannell as Elvira’s ghost rather stole the show, however, I have to report. With her beautiful face, graceful figure and superb costume she was riveting, and her lines were delivered with polish and ease. It was especially gratifying to reflect that this exquisite creature with the poise of a London actress is a born-and-bred Topshamite, and a rather young one, at that!

There were strong performances from the three other actors, Marie Watsham as Edith the gormless maid (brilliant voice!), Rob Hole as Dr. Bradman and Hilary Francis as his wife. I hope we will see more of Hilary; small though her part was, she put a great deal of humour into it in a deadpan way and made me laugh a lot.

Praise must go to Avril Pattinson, the director, for making the whole thing work so smoothly, and to Peter Tapp for the lighting, which gave Elvira’s entrances a particularly fay charm. I liked the set and the costumes, but wished that Clare Philbrock, who styled the women’s hair so well, had put a "hint of a tint" through Alan’s locks. He has the sprightly figure of a younger man, and had sacrificed his beard for the part, but oh, dear, his grey hair made him rather an old husband for Ruth and Elvira. ‘Twas ever thus in amateur dramatics, though, where a massive part like Charles can really only be taken on by an actor of many years experience.

Which leaves me only to congratulate all the backstage staff on the excellent set, props and sound - and the actors once again on their line-learning. Occasionally I have been asked whether I would ever consider taking part in an Estuary Players production, and the answer is always NO. I would be terrified to have to learn all those lines and I don’t know how they manage it!

Lily Neal

- Reviewed by: Lily Neal

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