In January it was announced that Dame Angela Lansbury would be reprising her role as Madame Arcati in Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit, on the same stage her mother performed on in 1918.
In Blithe Spirit, Lansbury’s Madame Arcati, a medium, is invited to the home of socialite and novelist Charles Condomine to conduct a seance. Charles only hopes to get some material for a new novel, but instead sees the ghost of his late first wife Elvira. When the seance is over, Elvira sticks around and tries to ruin Charles’s marriage to his second wife Ruth, who can’t see or hear Elvira.
Now the critics have had a chance to see the play and they couldn’t be more thrilled with it and Lansbury’s performance.
Theater critic Charles Spencer said Lansbury was “on sparkling form” and continued, “Thirty-five years ago I remember being bowled over by Lansbury’s performance as Mrs Lovett in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd on Broadway. She brings a similar energy and high definition wit to Madame Arcati. Her voice swoops and soars with superb grandeur and her extraordinary dance routine, in which she seems physically to vibrate as she goes into a trance, is a wonder to behold. This is a tour de force that will glow warmly in the memory of all who see it.”
If you couldn’t guess, Spencer gave Blithe Spirit a five star review.
While the Independent‘s critic Paul Taylor also enjoyed the performance, he only gave it four stars, saying, “With her red Princess Leia-style coiffure and clashing arty-meets-hearty wardrobe, Lansbury’s Madame A is a quivering, deliciously erratic blend of bohemian lady novelist and girl guide. It’s the way, though, that she emphasises the medium’s batty and strangely admirable self-belief that makes her portrayal so funny and endearing.”
Rod McPhee of the Daily Mirror gave a five star review. “Lansbury shows she still has razor sharp comic timing and the arsenal of withering looks and gestures required to play this timeless comedy character. The most subtle change in delivery and tone of voice is perfected by the experienced star, leaving the audience in stitches throughout,” said McPhee.
Fans also enjoyed Lansbury’s performance, taking to Twitter to share with those not lucky enough to have seen the play.
— Robert Rees (@MrRobRees) March 19, 2014
CONGRATULATIONS Dame Angela Lansbury and director Michael Blakemore for making spirits rise again in the London production of Blithe Spirit!
— Kim Weild (@mmedirector) March 20, 2014
Blithe Spirit continues to run through June 7 at the Gielgud Theatre in London’s West End.
Image via YouTube.