West End is not Cowardly about spirited production

By Paul Brett.

Laurence Olivier Award-winning actress Alison Steadman is to play the role of medium Madame Arcati as Noel Coward’s 1941 etheric comedy Blithe Spirit returns to London’s West End this month.

Alison has appeared in numerous films and plays, and is a regular on television – most recently as Gavin’s mother in the hit BBC comedy Gavin and Stacey.

The play centres on novelist Charles Condomine and his second wife, Ruth, who are literally haunted by Charles’s first wife, Elvira, whom the eccentric medium ‘conjures up’ at a séance in their home. The séance is only intended for the couple’s amusement, and research for Charles’ latest novel, but as with all things theatrical, the reality is rather different.

After the séance Elvira is visible only to Charles, and she is determined to wreak havoc from the afterlife with his current marriage.

Alison Steadman will play the medium Madame Arcati

This new version of one of Coward’s best loved plays will be directed by Thea Sharrock – a rising star in Theatreland. The cast also includes Robert Bathurst (Cold Feet) as Charles Condomine, Hermione Norris (Kingdom and Spooks) as Ruth Condomine and Ruthie Henshall as Elvira.

The play will run from March 2 until June 18. Performances are Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm, with matinees on Thursday and Saturday at 2.30pm. Ticket prices vary.

The Apollo Theatre is at 31 Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1D 7ES.

If you’re planning to see this new production of Blithe Spirit, why not write a review below? Have you seen previous productions of the play? Have you seen the film? Do you think the play/film is respectful or denigrating to Spiritualism? Let us know your views.

Tickets can be booked through London Theatre Direct by clicking here (booking fees may apply).

3 responses to “West End is not Cowardly about spirited production

  1. Great to see that Blithe Spirit is to be back on stage !
    I can only comment on the Rex Harrison movie & I love it. It’s funny & entertaining. Mr Coward must have done his research – I just wonder where his investigations took him !
    There are some wonderful scenes with Margaret Rutherford doing an amazingly animated job, as the increasingly desperate Madame Arcarti.
    “As far as i’m concerned you can stew in your own juice” she says after hearing of Mr Harrisons Spiritual woes !
    Some of the the dialogue is quite Spiritualist-specific too. Even though we are told “Daphne”, her ‘control’ – has a cold!!
    The oddest thing for me is that the house maid – who plays quite an important role in the story – looks uncannily like a younger version of the elderly medium who taught me in our home circle many years ago !
    I would love to see the show – but will have to wait until it tours – which I am sure it will.

  2. In 2002 the Center Stage theater in Baltimore, Maryland, USA presented Blithe Spirit. One of the dramaturgs interview me and this was published as the center fold of their programme. Many cast members and staff came for private sessions with me. The main dramaturg spoke after a matinee, of his experience, and evidence he received during his private session.

  3. Janet Harrison

    I saw this in the West End in March…fabulously done.

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