Thursday 27th September 1990
Friday 28th September 1990
Satsday 29th September 1990
Review from the Bucks Free Press - 5th October 1990
It was, I think an Oxford don who said that, when asked to explain the purpose of poetry, he always replied that it was to furnish authors with titles. As Shelley penned the opening line of his Ode to a Skylark, he could hardly have imagined how he was supplying the idea for such a sparkling comedy. He would have applauded the manner in which Forum Players poured their full hearts into Blithe Spirit. So would author Noel Coward.
Wendy Keeble directed the play with her customary imagination and flair. Her first coup was to persuade Richard Garland back to the boards, though with the prospect of such a plum role, he may have needed little coaxing. From the start Richard was in his element as Charles Condomine, a charmer besieged by the spirit of his first wife, played with ethereal grace by Wendy Woodington, who glided rather than walked across the room. The humour and wit of Elvira, delightful enough in her life, became an irritant to the hapless Charles.
Gwen Widberg was an obvious choice as medium Madame Arcati, a role in which it is tempting to do an Edith Evans and go right over the top. Gwen played in with wonderful restraint.
Geof Gardener, playing a doctor ineffective against Charles' affliction, and Janet Smith, as his tactless wife had little enough chance to shine, but still managed to do so. So also did the admirable Debbie Stokes as the neurotic maid with psychic powers.
No, I have not forgotten Brenda Phelps. Perish the thought, for here was a gem of a performance. As the second wife, Brenda had a red rose thrown at her during the play. At its end, she deserved to be handed a mass of them for her assured and professional acting.
The backstage crew did sterling work with set, lighting and special effects.
The London run of Blithe Spirit started in 1941 and went to almost 2,000 performances, at that time a record for a non-musical show. I saw it then and was captivated. Almost fifty years on, Forum Players renewed the pleasure.
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