Sometimes TASA offerings are so good that you have to remind yourself that this is an amateur production!
Megan Dansie’s Blithe Spirit would be at home in the Dunstan Playhouse or Her Majesty’s Theatre but the intimacy of the Little Theatre is perfect for this play. A simple set comprised of a three piece suite, some incidental tables and chairs and the audience’s imagination fired by Noel Coward’s scintillating dialogue, are all you need to picture the fireplace, French windows, grand piano and the world of a well-to-do household of a society couple. Background music from the 30’s and 40’s completes the illusion.
The cast is superb. Brad Martin is excellent as the suave novelist Charles Condomine delivering his lines in that clipped, terribly British, sardonic fashion that Noel Coward made his own. Miriam Keane as his second wife Ruth, a supportive and tolerant woman, is pushed to her limits by the manifestation of Charles’ first wife. There is some wonderful acerbic sparring between Charles and Ruth where both actors are equally matched in delivering flashing barbs with adroitness and superlative diction.
Jean Walker is beautifully cast as the eccentric Medium, Madame Arcati. Her magnetic stage presence and her embodiment of the role had us all thoroughly engaged in the séances and the antics that followed. The ghost Elvira is played by Emily Currie who gives a delightful portrayal of a beautiful, tempestuous spirit who wreaks havoc in the household by creating a supernatural ménage a trois. The repartee sparkles between the Condomines and Elvira.
Steve Marvanek and Esther Michelsen as Dr and Mrs Bradman appear to have arrived straight from a 1940’s movie. Their manners and appearance are impeccable as dinner guests in a country house and they provide good support to the Condomines.
Ashlee Scott as Edith the maid makes lovely comic appearances throughout as she tries to serve the household in an appropriate manner. Ashlee’s Edith is endearing and she is ultimately of far more importance than would first appear.
The costumes are very elegant and of the era, with Charles having just as many if not more costume changes than his wife Ruth.
Congratulations to all involved for coping with the long delay in being able to bring this to the stage. It is well worth seeing and, pardon the pun, it lifts the spirits!