Skip to main content

Blithe Spirit

Perth Theatre
Four stars
When well-heeled novelist Charles and his second wife Ruth tell their 
whirlwind of a maid Edith to slow down at the opening of Noel Coward's 
psychic-based comedy, they could be having a word with Coward himself. 
Because, rather than the normal cut-glass gallop through the French 
windows which the play is driven by, Johnny McKnight's production slows 
things down to a stately amble that lends things a more serious intent.

As Charles attempts to cop a few moves for a story by inviting local 
psychic Madame Arcati to conduct a séance, he gets more than he 
bargains for when his dead first wife Elvira appears. While only 
visible to him, Elvira nevertheless wreaks havoc on Charles and Ruth's 
seeming domestic bliss, with Charles clearly relishing two women 
fighting over him from beyond the grave.

While relocating things from Kent to Perth doesn't add much to a play 
that simply can't avoid its poshness, there are nevertheless some 
quietly subversive touches that chime with popular culture's ongoing 
fascination with the dead returning in one form or another. The most 
striking of these comes in Sally Reid's Elvira, whose flame-haired 
countenance is offset by an equally vivid scarlet dress that gives her 
a strength and sense of self-determination beyond pure mischief.

Unspoken sexual identities too are in abundance. While Charles is a 
woman-hating user, Billy Mack's effete Dr Bradman clearly uses Helen 
Logan's Mrs Bradman as his beard, while Anne Lacey's Madame Arcati is 
free-spirited and sensibly-shoed. Only Scarlett Mack's delightfully ditsy 
Edith remains untouched in a show which climaxes on Kenny Miller's set 
with a bad-tempered and technically versatile flourish that finally 
lays its ghosts to rest.

The Herald, November 4th 2013

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Futureproof 2017

Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow until February 4th 2018
Four stars

Now in its ninth year, Futureproof's showcase of recent graduate photographers from seven Scottish art schools and universities returns to its spiritual home at Street Level, with nineteen artists embracing photo essays, abstraction and constructed narratives. It is Karlyn Marshall's Willies, Beuys and Me that grabs you first. Tucked in a corner, this depiction of a woman impersonating iconic artist Joseph Beuys says much about gender stereotyping, and recalls Manfred Karge's play, Man to Man, in which a German woman took on her dead husband's identity.

The personal and the political converge throughout. Ben Soedera's Foreign Sands contrasts natural resources and the constructed world. Gareth and Gavin Bragdon's The Bragdon Brothers moves onto the carnivalesque streets of Edinburgh. Kieran Delaney's Moments also looks at the apparently ordinary. Matthew Buick goes further afield, as tourists…

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Bdy_Prts

Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh
Saturday December 2nd


It should probably come as no surprise that professional dancers are in the audience for the Edinburgh leg of this mini tour by spectral performance art/pop auteurs Bdy_Prts on the back of the release of their sublime debut album, The Invisible Hero. Beyond the music, the raison d’etre of Bdy_Prts’ dynamic duo of Jill O'Sullivan and Jenny Reeve, after all, is a flamboyantly costumed display of kinetic physical jerks and modernist shape-throwing to illustrate a set of fizzing machine-age chorales.

In this sense, the Bdy_Prts live experience is several works of art for the price of one that's a long way from the pair's formative work fronting Sparrow and the Workshop (O'Sullivan) and Strike the Colours (Reeve). Part living sculptures, part Bloomsbury Group super-heroines, part widescreen pop fabulists, O'Sullivan and Reeve paint their faces with ancient symbols and sport customised shoulder pads that look both seasonally …