Blithe Spirit – Reviews Round-up

A round-up of reviews for Blithe Spirit at the Apollo Theatre starring Alison Steadman.

Ruthie Henshall in Blithe Spirit at the Apollo Theatre
Ruthie Henshall in Blithe Spirit at the Apollo Theatre

Noel Coward’s comedy Blithe Spirit has opened at the Apollo Theatre featuring an all-star cast including Alison Steadman (Gavin & Stacey), Ruthie Henshall (Chicago), Hermione Norris (Spooks) and Robert Bathurst (Hattie), and directed by Thea Sharrock (After the Dance).

Read reviews of Blithe Spirit from the Times, Telegraph, Guardian, Independent and Daily Mail, below.

Book tickets to see Blithe Spirit at the Apollo Theatre in London

Average rating score for this production:
AVERAGE STAR RATING

REVIEWS ROUND-UP

“Thea Sharrock's revival of this 1941 piece has lost some sheen since it was first seen at the Theatre Royal, Bath seven years ago. It would be an exaggeration to say it's only a ghost of its former self, but it has acquired a slightly routine quality and the new cast is much patchier than the first.”
“The outstanding performance, however, comes from Hermione Norris who plays the second wife, Ruth, as a figure of lethally cold-hearted elegance. Even before the appearance of her ghostly rival, Norris radiates a waspish discontent. She also turns on the medium responsible for Elvira's appearance, Madame Arcati, with undisguised ferocity. And when asked by Arcati where Elvira is, she raises the evening's biggest laugh through her exquisite timing of the line, "My husband has driven her into Folkestone."”
Alison Steadman... seems rather laboured in comparison.”
“what I miss is the lightness of touch that marks vintage Coward productions and any sense that Elvira, however ethereal, poses a genuine sexual threat. It's a doggedly decent revival that has, you feel, seen better days.” - The Guardian
“Although Sharrock's revival is intelligently cast, and played with style and assurance, especially by the Cold Feet couple Robert Bathurst and Hermione Norris as Charles and Ruth Condomine, the overall rhythm is not infallible, and the performance suffers in its three acts being chopped down the middle; Coward wrote comedy in sonata form, and you mess with it at your peril.”
“Although Steadman is in danger of playing at one speed and on one level, she delivers it all with such glee that you're always glad to see her return.” - The Independent
“Robert Bathurst as Condomine is a born Coward hero, his world-weary wittiness shading — as one wife snarls — to “seedy grandeur”. The women are perfectly contrasted: Hermione Norris as Ruth is steely, touchy, and convincingly desperate, with some nice abrupt losses of control in the second act. Ruthie Henshall is viciously vivacious, demanding, mischievous and irresistible in wispy chiffon with some unnaturally bright white teeth.”
“But the leitmotif in this production is merry exaggeration. From the opening minutes when Jodie Taibi, making the most of Edith the maid, scores a solo round of applause by solving the problem of how to lower a tea-tray to a table by slowly, anxiously, doing the splits. It’s out to amuse, and succeeds all the way.” - The Times
“Ruthie Henshall versus Alison Steadman? Normally, you’d think Ruthie wouldn’t stand a ghostly against such a versatile actress. But in the solid, enjoyable Blithe Spirit, which has just reached the West End, it is Miss Henshall — all floaty-toed and sweet-smiled — who takes the garlands.”
“Hermione Norris, who plays the second Mrs Condomine, is less good at projection in the first scene but she warms up and wins a laugh when her patience snaps. And this was a preview.” - Daily Mail
“In Thea Sharrock’s stylish, but often disconcertingly chilly revival, it strikes me as a heartless and at times downright misogynistic piece, as a homosexual writer examines marriage with an appalled and beady eye.”
“There is good fun to be had from Alison Steadman’s splendid performance as Arcati, a bossy, dotty, jolly old soul much given to mad roars, barks and groans as she attempts to make contact with the other side.”
“But what a cold play this is, and how much it seems to hate women. Elvira is a manipulative minx, Ruth emerges as a nagging bitch, while Arcati is more or less completely off her chump.”
“Perhaps others in the first-night audience shared my disenchanted view of the play, for laughs were often in short supply, hard and skilfully though the cast worked.” - The Telegraph

Date: 10 March 2011
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