Blithe Spirit at New Era Theatre Newbury

This production of Noël Coward's classic comedy about ghosts, mediums and séances was stylishly performed by the New Era Players and made a jolly good evening's entertainment.

The setting in the 1930s was very carefully re-created. We will never again see the days when a couple put on full evening dress to receive the neighbours for dinner and plied them with cocktails as soon as they walked through the door. "Dry Martini?"

There is no doubt that Noël Coward excelled at writing amusing banter between an affectionate married couple, who occasionally stray into gentle sparring, or a touch of jealousy, or a downright squabble. Nobody did it better.

The parts of Charles and his wife Ruth were played by David Tute and Sally Hall, impeccably. She looked wonderful in her clinging satin gown, cut on the cross, and elegant again in her blue and white day dress. Gareth Croft as Dr Bradman did a convincing Scottish accent.

Inevitably the show was stolen by two people, one being Georgie Gale as Elvira, Charles's late wife, who turns up from the "other side" as a result of Charles and Ruth meddling with table-tapping and séances and all that. Shimmering in silver satin, she was both a ghost and a femme fatale.

The other was the plum rôle of Madame Arcati, the medium who claims to be able to communicate with the next world, hilariously performed by Lisa Harrington. Her series of sequined Oriental costumes created a suitable mystique, despite her confession that she arrived by bicycle. 

The performance had sophistication, style and pace. All credit to the director, Stephen Bennett. Hope he does another Noël Coward before too long.

The theatre was packed and this is just the sort of entertainment we need on a cold winter's evening in the pre-Christmas season.