A spirited performance by Swaffham Players

Rodger Bilverstone as Madame Arcati
Rodger Bilverstone as Madame Arcati
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Swaffham Players did full justice to Blithe Spirit in their recent production, writes Charlotte Cowles in the following review:

Blithe Spirit opens with Mr and Mrs Condomine anticipating the arrival of their guests. While they wait, Mr Condomine, played by Victor Tucker, and his wife, Maureen Silver, sup dry martinis and make vaguely polite conversation.

However, by the time the guests, Dr and Mrs Bradman, Stuart Travis and Nicola Dawkins respectively, arrive, the audience is beginning to feel the beginnings of marital tension in the room.

Fortunately, Rodger Bilverstone’s arrival as Madame Arcati dispels the tension and achieves the first of many laughs.

The decision to cast a male actor in the role pays off time and time again. Most importantly, although funny, Bilverstone embodies the character of Arcati perfectly, not once does the comedy fall into the realm of the ridiculous. He is funny and yet serious enough that the audience are willing to believe in him and go with him as he takes off into the realm of the unknown.

The play progresses from laughs to light chills and back again as the spirit of Elvira begins her machinations, driving a wedge between Mr Condomine and his second wife.

Right from the moment she steps from behind a curtain, up to the shocking revelation of her end-game Elvira takes great joy in the mischief she causes. Marcie Loan, in the role of the spectre, conveys devilish glee at every moment, alternating between that and coquettish as she attempts to win Mr Condomine’s affections away from his bemused and frustrated current wife.

By the end you feel for poor Mr Condomine, and Tucker portrays the broken down and harried husband exceedingly well. As he finds himself doubly haunted it seems as there will be no respite. Fortunately, things come good and it is during Mr Condomine’s final monologue that the audience gets the greatest shock of the night. Not since Woman in Black have I jumped so far out of my seat!

The Swaffham Players, under the excellent direction of Marcie Loan and John Hooker, did justice to this wonderful play. Despite a few opening night jitters, the small cast delivered a thoroughly enjoyable performance.

Aside from Roger Bilverstone’s turn as Madame Arcati, I feel special mention must go to Sue Baxter for her highly comic portrayal of housemaid Edith.

This was the first performance by Swaffham Players I had seen and it most definitely won’t be the last.

As far as a rating goes, I’d say three dry martinis and a couple of cucumber sandwiches.