THE inimitable Alison Steadman makes her second visit to the MK Theatre stage in less than a year this week, this time assuming the role of eccentric medium Madame Arcati, in the Noel Coward classic Blithe Spirit, writes Sammy Jones.
Alison’s appointment is reason enough to take a pew for the comedy, but the sterling cast doesn’t start and stop there – Robert Bathurst and Hermione Norris star as haunted husband and wife Charles and Ruth Condomine.
Millions of us used to let them into our homes on a weekly basis in comedy drama Cold Feet, and since that small-screen success there have been further plaudits, in Spooks and Wire in the Blood – and that is just Hermione.
Olivier Award winning West End and Broadway star Ruthie Henshall becomes the vengeful spirit of Charles’ ex wife Elvira. Ruthie is a West End ace who has put her name to Chicago, Cats and Miss Saigon. Blithe Spirit originally opened in 1941, and played for more than 2000 performances, helping to bring a smile and raise spirits when it played out against the backdrop of war.
The plot is simple enough: Novelist Charles Condomine and his second wife Ruth are literally haunted by a past relationship when an eccentric medium manages to conjure up the ghost of Charles’s neurotic first wife, Elvira, at a seance.
Razor-sharp wit and decidedly lively characters have placed this comedy as among the very best of Coward’s work, and with this cast assembly, you can get set for one hell of a delivery.
On the screen, Steadman has proved her versatility and her class with numerous roles from the challenging and engaging to the feelgood, and spanning Abigail’s Party to Gavin & Stacey.
But when not stage-stepping or filming, Alison is pretty formidable too.
GO! spoke with her last year prior to her visit here, tackling the Alan Bennett penned Enjoy.
Aside from the play, Alison spoke passionately about her ire for plastic bag pollution that threatens our wildlife and our seas.
Alison’s passion rubbed off on us, and while we already had a conscience and did ‘our bit’, we now fully subscribe to the ‘reuse,don’t abuse’ mantra.
Blithe Spirit runs from Monday to Saturday, February 19. Call 0844 871 7652 to book.