It has been a while since the Heath Ledger Theatre has sported traditional red velvet curtains, but sitting there knowing the action is about to unfold staring up at these sumptuous curtains there is an excited buzz rippling through the audience. The play opens to the beautifully rendered sweeping interior of the Condomine’s wealthy front room – supposedly rendered bare due to the war – but the furnishings are still opulent and the large French doors and window drips of glamour. It’s crackling and witty from the start. Adriane Daff who was fantastic in Black Swan Theatre Company‘s Flood plays the sharp-tongued, quick-witted Ruth Comdomine, second wife to Charles (Adam Booth) she sparkles with dry wit as she quizzes Charles on his plans for the evening and of his feelings for his decesed ex-wife. Ruth is scathing towards the maid (Ella Heatherington) who, after being told to slow down, walks in a deliberately egagerated fashion, which is funny at first but soon gets tired. The dialogue is Noel Coward at his finest – it is sharp, clever and banter-filled leaving the audience in stitches.
Charles is a writer, and enlists the help of his wife and friends Dr and Mrs Bradman (Michael Loney and Michelle Fornasier) to summon the eclectic and mockable Madame Arcati for a seance – the idea is to mock her and write a book about a charlatan psychic. Enter Alison Van Reeken as Madame Arcati – filling in last minute due to the late-notice withdrawl of the previous actress. Van Reeken is marvellous. At first, her performance seems very similar to her previous Black Swan role in Dinner (this is the smallest of criticisms considering she only had two rehearsals to learn the role!) however, she breathes a life and soul into the quirky and slightly formidable medium.
In true farcical fashion, it’s all fun and games until someone’s dead wife is summoned from the grave. Jo Morris a solid performer on the Perth stage is hilarious as the flighty spirit of Elvira and plays beautifully off of Daff whose facial expressions are second to none.
If you are considering going to see Black Swan Theatre Company‘s production of Blithe Spirit, ask the stars…all signs will point to yes!
Blithe Spirit is playing at The State Theatre Centre Perth from the 18th July – 9th August.