An en­er­getic Pitlochry re­vival of Cow­ard’s fan­tasy comedy

The Courier & Advertiser (Fife Edition) - - NEWS - Peter Cargill

“Hail to thee, blithe spirit”. Noel Cow­ard’s clas­sic comic con­jur­ing with the dark arts has joined the mu­si­cal cantrips of Summer Hol­i­day in reper­toire at Pitlochry.

First pro­duced in Manch­ester in 1941, Cow­ard even­tu­ally took over the lead role af­ter it had trans­ferred to Lon­don’s West End, where it held the record for longevity un­til Agatha Christie’s mur­der­ous Mouse­trap came along.

Cow­ard’s work is rarely in dan­ger of be­ing caught in a time warp, but di­rec­tor Gemma Fair­lie’s tinker­ing with the script and action brings an even more con­tem­po­rary feel to it. And the in­tro­duc­tion of an iPad, ca­pa­ble (and of­ten in­ca­pable) of op­er­at­ing lights, mu­sic and cur­tains, brings an added comedic boost.

There is also a bit of gen­der swap­ping – wacky maid Edith is now zany manser­vant Eddie (ex­cel­lent comic per­for­mance from David Rank­ine, with more than a nod­ding trib­ute to Hugh Skinner of Fleabag and W1A fame).

Nov­el­ist Charles Con­domine (a sonorous Ali Watt) wishes to learn about the oc­cult for his lat­est tome, and in­vites medium Madame Ar­cati (Deirdre Davis at her ec­cen­tric best) to hold a séance. Along with friends Dr and Mrs Brad­man (Harry Long and Tilly-Mae Mill­brook), they all have a bit of a gig­gle, but all is not as it seems. Madame Ar­cati ac­ci­den­tally sum­mons up Charles’ first wife, Elvira, who has been dead for seven years – but only he can see and hear her. Barbara Hock­a­day as Elvira is well in tune with her vamp­ish al­ter ego. Much may­hem en­sues as sec­ond wife Ruth (Claire Dargo tak­ing ex­as­per­a­tion to new lev­els), is fi­nally con­vinced of the spirit’s pres­ence and her das­tardly de­sire to kill Charles so he can join her on the “other side”.

De­signer Adrian Rees’ all-white set is mag­nif­i­cent. A spir­ited pro­duc­tion all round.

Blithe Spirit is on at Pitlochry Fes­ti­val The­atre, con­tin­u­ing on var­i­ous dates un­til Septem­ber 28.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.