Blithe Spirit

Date 29th July 2017
Society Cast and Crew Theatre Workshop
Venue Lakeview Hall, Canvey Island
Type of Production Play
Director Rob Simmons


Author: Tessa Davies

As we sat down we were admiring the scenery which was, truly, exceptional.  The attention to details from set builders Steve Hull and Peter Dumenil and the excellent props sourced by Laura DeBond & Kim Dowding, could not go unremarked.  Here was a near perfect interpretation of the period in which the play is set.  The wall telephone, the gramophone player, the wall paper, the china, the furniture; I could go on and on, all were absolutely perfect and depicting the 1930’s well.

Matthew Willis as Charles, was perfect, an excellent characterisation.  Maxine Neil (his second wife Ruth) was also very good and they made a, really, believable couple.  Jeff Hodgkins (Doctor Bradman) and Bernie Saxby (Mrs Bradman) also made a good couple.  Kyla Lupton played the maid Edith with great attention to detail.  Sarah Lepley WAS Madam Arcati, an inspired portrayal of a character that is key to the whole production.  Sally Catling as the ghost Elvira completed the cast with a very good portrayal of the character.

Director Rob Simmons brought his cast together and everyone performed well.  It was unfortunate about the odd prompt but these were delivered neatly, if a little fast on at least one occasion I think!

Having praised the scenery it seems a shame that I feel I need to criticise the costumes but the ladies’ costumes, apart from Madam Arcati’s (which were beautiful) were not accurate to the period portrayed by the set.  Certainly, the opening, evening dresses, were far too modern for the thirties and the day dresses worn later were also too modern.  The men’s costumes were, actually, much closer to the period.

I would particularly highlight Elvira’s (and later Ruth’s) ghost costume.  Whilst we do not know what Elvira was wearing when she passed away, it seems logical to assume that it wasn’t trousers and a top.  Then, when Ruth was killed, she should have re-appeared in a ghostly interpretation of the costume she was wearing when she left the house.  I appreciate that this might be difficult but these two costumes were completely at odds with the whole essence of the play.

It was, however, a very good production overall and one that I thoroughly enjoyed.