IN her debut production for REP, Kate Blackhurst takes on one of the most difficult plays in the standard English language repertoire.
Rippling with subtle wit that partly depends on outdated views about class, marriage and ethnicity, “Blithe Spirit” demands a light, delicate touch.
Peter Holland as the husband of two wives (one alive, one dead) brings that lightness to his part, but most of the other characters do not, with the result that the lengthy first half drags ever so slightly and fails to achieve many of the laughs.
The period setting allows a triumph for set designer Andrew Kay and costume designer Anna Senior, apart from a strange lapse that sees the ghostly wife Elvira (the more glamorous wife) dressed in questionable taste and wearing heavy ghostly make up that is entirely superfluous.
Stealing all her scenes was Liz St Clair-Long as the weird medium, Madame Arcati, a delicious role of which she made the most.
Emma Wood as the rationalist wife Ruth gives a sharp, focused performance and the youngest member of the cast, Yanina Clifton, plays her role of the unwitting maid/medium with affecting ingenuousness.
The final moments of the play, when the set is quite literally trashed by two warring ghosts, is a coup for the technical team at REP and draw applause for the skill and the humour.