Blithe Spirit

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Sewell Barn, Norwich


> Sewell Barn, Norwich

Designer Angela Rowe excels with a set as solid, comfortable, and smugly middle class as you could hope for. Just the place for a conventional drawing room comedy. But odd forces are unleashed as they set up a table and set about calling up the past.

Enter Madame Arcati, played by Jenny Hobson whose dottiness is all the dafter for always being under some sort of control. She keeps some dignity, even professional pride while steering a course somewhere to the starboard of sanity. She can dance and perform ritual gestures, eat cucumber sandwiches and then fall in to a trance.

Four normal mortals – Angela Rowe, Gareth Stewardson, Rob Morris and Rosemary Morgan – preserve more usual standards while their maid servant (Polly Fenn) adds high speed comedy. They are suave and civilised as well as witty and viciously waspish. Above all they all give the impression of being completely at home in their roles.

As Elvira, the rematerialised wife of Charles, Sally Dixon looks as if she does really belong to another world and her deep contralto is just right. What adds more fun is her marvellous sense of humour as she takes advantage of her situation.

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Director Jeffrey Davies makes Noel Coward's brilliant comedy one of the most successful of Sewell Barn's productions. If you have seen the film, don't worry; you may prefer seeing it live.

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