Blithe Spirit reviews at the Duke of York’s Theatre starring Jennifer Saunders
Jennifer Saunders brings her zany portrayal of Madame Arcati from the afterlife to the West End as a revival of Noël Coward‘s Blithe Spirit comes to town at the Duke of York’s. It’s a classic comedy play where a writer invites his friends to dinner, including a medium who conjures up his ex-wife from beyond the grave. It’s back in the West End for just six weeks, so read these Blithe Spirit reviews.
Blithe Spirit reviews starring Jennifer Saunders
“Geoffrey Streatfeild is a superb actor in plays both classical and contemporary, as the beleaguered husband, and Lisa Dillon and Emma Naomi as his current and former wives respectively. This is classic Coward territory of warring spouses and misunderstandings of communication between them. Eyre’s production – and the wives themselves – achieve liftoff, literally so, in the second half when Anthony Ward’s set and Paul Kieve’s illusions provide a memorable comic finale.”
Eyre’s production is ramped up to maximum: the velocity of the dialogue, the shouting, the stage effects. The long scenes of bickering badinage soon get tiresome, especially as the pitch gets higher and volume gets louder… [Jennifer Saunders’] Arcati has a solid, earthy quality. Her thick eyebrows, lank hair and sensible shoes suggest someone who’s spent the day in the potting shed rather than engaging in “ectoplasmic manifestations”. Saunders conveys a sense that Arcati’s ability to contact the dead is just as bewildering to her as it is to her clients.”
“Jennifer Saunders is hysterically funny as one of drama’s greatest comic creations. In this inspired revival of Noel Coward’s comedy, Jennifer Saunders socks us with a hysterically funny performance as Madame Arcati.”
“Noël Coward’s comedy about death and the afterlife – first performed during the second world war – seems the perfect play for dark times… Most of the bubbles come from Jennifer Saunders’ turn as the medium Madame Arcati, played as a socially awkward, slightly mannish English countrywoman… Saunders is a natural in the role, ruddy-cheeked and sensibly dressed in walking boots, petticoats and brown cardigans. She draws laughter with physical comedy that is downplayed but effective, as she sits with legs spread or speaks of her digestive troubles while hoovering up the food and drink.”
Review from June 2019 at Theatre Royal Bath