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Blithe Spirit is a charming Noel Coward play – and I was impressed with the overall standard. An experienced cast and mostly well thought out moves from first time Director Marlon Gill.  However, I felt it was very long, and would have benefitted from a few cuts!

Excellent diction and projection from the whole cast.

That said – the two main characters Charles and Ruth Condomine played by Dan Clucas and Katy Ratcliffe kept everything going apace, which was matched by Malcolm Emms and Jo Anne Wright as Doctor Bradman and his wife.

Maggie Harvey was well-suited to the quirky part of Madame Acarti, bringing conviction and a certain je ne sais quoi to the role - being quite down to earth, but at the same time managing to capture an other-worldly quality.  There was no chance of missing the meaning of the character, a very effective portrayal.

Katy Ratcliffe’s Ruth was spot on, a slightly ditzy woman, who was not as confident as she could have been with being the second wife – I loved the moments when Elvira materialised and the relationship between the two ladies began.  The twists and turns of the plot made it interesting and we got a lot of humour out of their spats, and then the eventual collusion between them.  

Dan Clucas was a very urbane Charles, showing confusion then acceptance over his rather naughty wives – I thought he was the best Charles I have seen for a while.  He spoke the words in a very natural manner making him very believable, and reflected his feelings toward both wives!

Kate’s costumes were all beautiful, and I loved the red/white bias, as with Mrs Bradman leaning towards mauve, it gave the characters a cohesive feel and a marked identity.  Both Dan and Malcolm looked very suave and sophisticated in their evening clothes, helping the vision of the elegance and formality of the age, and making Madame Acarti’s attire look more eccentric as well.  Dan’s casual wear was also in keeping with the era, and looked smart but casual.  Well done to the costume team.

The set was first rate, it looked solid and was well-dressed.  The mirror/window worked well.  I liked the use of Dave Simmonds and John Eames as the footman and butler respectively, setting the scene for the next part of the action. However, they needed to speed up as this would have helped the pace and length of the production, but the attention to detail was great.  The lighting plot enhanced the set, and the use of UV lights above the two chairs where Elvira and latterly Ruth sat, created a lovely ghostly feel.  I liked the choice of music too, it blended well with the era.

The rather restrained relationship between Dr Bradman and his wife was nicely played by Malcolm and Jo – they gave the impression of a longer marriage with all the understandings and condescension gained over a space of time.

I thought Lisa Harbron created a lovely character as Edith the maid.  The rushing round and slowing down, accompanied by the naivety of the girl was nicely achieved, a good catalyst to the more elegant ladies.  Lisa’s costume was also very suitable.

Lucy Booth gave us an ethereal, but also earthy Elvira – creating some very amusing moments, I loved what she brought to the part.  Again her lovely floating grey costume was exactly right, with the rather ghostly makeup, which wasn’t overdone – a fine line that was very nicely drawn.  I loved her reaction when Ruth died, and her fine upbeat interpretation.

I enjoyed the production very much, it was classy and everything worked really well from the set to the cast, the costumes and the movement of the cast within the set.  Well done to all concerned.

Hemel Hempstead Theatre Company


review date: 7th Oct 2015  

Boxmoor Playhouse

Director:  Marlon Gill   


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