Elizabeth Whitmarsh, left, as Madame Arcati, and Kate McCallum Pagett, as Ruth, experience the afterlife in Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit, on now at Langham Court Theatre. Courtesy Langham Court Theatre

REVIEW: A large round of applause for Blithe Spirit

Langham Court’s 90th season opener a great ensemble piece featuring diverse talents

Sheila Martindale

Monday Magazine contributor

I have loved Noel Coward and Blithe Spirit ever since I first saw the play when I was 15. I have since seen it at such prestigious venues as the Stratford and Shaw Festivals, but I can honestly say I have not seen such fine performances as I did at Langham Court Theatre this week.

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Before I even mention the actors, I must send up a cheer for Wendy Henderson’s brilliant costume designs, particularly in the case of the ghosts, and to Tess Wiens for the wonderful ‘poltergeist’ effects.

Elizabeth Whitmarsh is an absolutely marvelous Madame Arcati. OK, so we know all the eccentricities are largely tongue-in-cheek, but you’d swear this was her natural personality. And the maid, Edith, is a delightful cameo role, beautifully played by Corinna Gilliland. Malcolm Harvey is smooth and urbane as Doctor Bradman, ably supported by Jo Barnes as his wife.

The main characters Charles and Ruth, played by Alan Penty and Kate McCallum Pagett, as sane people in an insane situation, are priceless. Their hilarious three-cornered conversations with the spirit Elvira are unparalleled. And Elvira herself, a captivating spirit played by Jackie Rioux, materializes from a portrait on the wall and charms us even though we know she is a spoiled brat.

The set (created by director Toshik Bukowiecki in a remarkable dual role, with set décor by Drew Waveryn) was given an enthusiastic round of applause as soon as the curtains opened – well deserved.

Congratulations go out to Bukowiecki for pulling a bunch of diverse people together in this delightfully sophisticated production.

Blithe Spirit runs until Oct. 13. Don’t miss it! Call 250-384-2142 to reserve tickets, email boxoffice@langhamtheatre.ca or drop by the theatre box office.

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