Theatre review: Blithe Spirit, Perth Theatre

Perth Theatre. Picture: Robert Perry
Perth Theatre. Picture: Robert Perry
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SOMETIMES, it takes a new generation of theatre-makers to seize hold of a classic text, and reveal it in a different light.

Johnny McKnight’s new Perth production of Noel Coward’s great 1941 comedy may not be the most subtle or well-tuned you will ever see but it has enough of that rowdy, questioning energy to deliver an entertaining two hours.

Set in the luxurious home of novelist Charles Condamine and his glamorous wife Ruth, Blithe Spirit famously tells how Condamine, as research for a novel, invites the eccentric local medium Madam Arcati to demonstrate her skills; only to find himself confronted, after the seance, by the pouting ghost of his wildly seductive first wife Elvira.

If Blithe Spirit was written to help audiences laugh at death in the darkest days of the Second World War, though, there’s little of that 1940’s romantic wistfulness in McKnight’s vivid production, which keeps the gorgeous costumes in period, but plays fast and loose with everything else.

The show benefits from a delightful trio of performances from Anita Vettesse and Sally Reid as the two Mrs Condamines, and from Anne Lacey as a rather sexy Madam Arcati. And Kenny Miller’s bold art-deco set, with its vast sliding windows, is unfailingly spectacular; from the glamour of the early scenes, to the final collapse into chaos, as the two unquiet spirits fight it out, for all eternity.

Rating: * * * *