Blithe Spirit

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Blithe Spirit

Postby Barry » Wed Jan 13, 2010 12:09 am

The Royal Exchange, January 12th 2010

I'm having to rely on the kindness of friends now for my cultural trips, and hopefully this has been balanced by 'what goes around comes around' or something. So thanks for the gift voucher to the Exchange. I still do love Coward and the Exchange usually does them so well, and here was a beautifully uncluttered evening, that may not have been the high farce of other productions, but as a rather moving comedy drama actually. I dread to think how many bad Madame Arcati's, no not bad, but obvious performances I have seen. Being eccentric can be another word for ridiculous and over the top and shallow. Here Annette Badland gave a very layered and nuanced reading, being both triumphant, and moved by her first encounter with Elvira. She was also surprisingly sexual, finding many extra hidden meanings and syllables in the word 'ectoplasm'. A beautifully thought through rounded character. The set was exquisite and contained in a circle (oh what a beautiful rug described the space), that saw Elvira pacing round on the outsider wanting to be let in. Sudden entrances are hard at the Exchange so the initial appearances of both ghosts I have seen more effecitvely elsewhere, but I don't think I have seen as impressive effects in the final scene. Here was a set in the round, with the furniture and props being moved all the evening, and then at the end everything was flung about, the huge light fitting almost tumbling to the floor, and the space erupting in a maelstrom of flying papers - a nice reference to Charles' books. This was as with everything in the production - it was all thought through beautifully, every colour, every minimal prop was there for a reason. I'm not sure the play has the economy of some of the others, but it is still amazingly constructed and tight. A very entertaining evening - a classy production done with deceptive ease. Thank you Royal Exchange again.
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