Living up to the hype, Angela Lansbury's return to the West End stage is as triumphant as many predicted. Having already won a Tony Award for her performance as Madame Arcati in Noël Coward's masterpiece, Blithe Spirit provides a top night out.
The play centres around Charles Condomine (Charles Edwards) and his wife Ruth (Janie Dee). The couple invite some friends for dinner, as well as the local clairvoyant Madame Arcati. Everybody believes Madame Arcati is a fake, but the evening doesn’t go as planned when Charles' first wife, Elvira (Jemima Rooper), is summoned. Charles is the only person able to see and hear his first wife, making Ruth's life a little challenging to say the least....
All of Lansbury’s entrances are greeted with huge applause from the audience and I have never witnessed such an electric atmosphere during the bows after watching a play. The legend does not hold back one tiny bit, giving a full-out, hysterical performance.
Lansbury isn’t the only star of the show as Janie Dee also gives gives an almighty performance. Ruth is a terrific part and one that Dee is able to sink her teeth into. The audience loved Lansbury before the performance had begun but, when Dee's final entrance was greeted with applause, it was clear she had won everyone over.
The rest of the cast are all strong, particularly Charles Edwards and Jemima Rooper whose chemistry is electric. Noël Coward's writing remains fantastically witty, his plays are seemingly timeless. Simon Higlett's design is detailed and hugely impressive.
Michael Blakemore's production is simply glorious and one that many will still be talking about in years to come.
Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins
Blithe Spirit runs at the Gielgud Theatre until Saturday 7th June 2014
Other Blithe Spirit Reviews:
‘Angela Lansbury is terrific. A TOUR DE FORCE’
Charles Spencer, The Daily Telegraph
‘Angela Lansbury GOB-SMACKINGLY BRILLIANT.’
Simon Edge, Daily Express
‘Angela Lansbury’s return to the West End is something to treasure’
Henry Hitchings, The Evening Standard