Blithe Spirit at Harold Pinter Theatre
The Harold Pinter Theatre enjoys a spirited haunting with the latest Noël Coward adaptation to hit the West End. Blithe Spirit, starring national treasure Jennifer Saunders, is a raucous affair full of typical Coward-esque wit.
For research purposes and simply for a bit of a laugh, Charles and Ruth Condomine (played by Geoffrey Streatfeild and Lisa Dillon, respectively) invite a psychic into their home for a séance they couldn’t possibly believe less in. The moment Madame Arcati (the incomparable Jennifer Saunders) arrives, chaos starts to ensue as it turns out there might be more to this psychic business than the Condomines bargained for.
As with any Noël Coward comedy, Blithe Spirit is a brilliant barrage of physical and verbal wit from start to finish. It’s difficult to ever find fault in Coward’s writing as he lands funny blow after funny blow with his well developed characters. At most, one could say that it’s a little slow to get going, with a whole lot of exposition needed. But with plenty of comedic lines threaded throughout, it’s hard to hold that against Coward. And this particular performance, directed by Richard Eyre, certainly lives up to the writer’s stellar work.
The first incredibly striking element of this performance is the grand living room set, transporting the audience into a stunningly decorated country manor. It’s marvellous work from set designer Anthony Ward, giving the show an immediate wow factor.
But the set is completely forgotten once Jennifer Saunders hits the stage, as she steals every last ounce of focus, keeping it squarely on her fantastic performance. Saunders is every bit a joy to watch as one would hope, injecting a huge dose of comedy through her hypnotically eccentric Madame Arcati.
The supporting cast are all perfectly faultless too. Dillon, Streatfeild and Madeleine Mantock (who plays a ghostly spectre from Charle’s past) are all sharp and funny in their roles. But Rose Wardlaw, as the Condomine’s maid Edith, deserves a special mention for causing almost as much laughter as Saunders does. Wardlaw’s very physical performance has the audience chortling and guffawing the second she’s seen.
Blithe Spirit is quite special, made all the more so by Jennifer Saunders in the lead. It’s a wonderfully British, wonderfully witty, wonderfully wonderful show that will have audiences laughing all the way through.
Blithe Spirit is at Harold Pinter Theatre from 16th September until 6th November 2021. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.