There are multitudinous shows, concerts, plays and other performances that have been significantly stuffed around and/or cancelled because of Covid. The Director and company dealing with this particular production are to be commended for their endurance and perseverance to ensure that the show must go on, as well as for the result: a fine performance of a 20th century comedy classic that doesn't ever seem to go out of fashion.
Noel Coward's very English command of the English language is superb, and delightfully exhibited in this play, in which an author, seeking material for a novel, invites a charming but slightly potty aspiring medium to his house for dinner and a séance. She manages to produce a manifestation of the writer's late first wife, much to the annoyance of his present one. The confusion and entanglements that ensue produce the perfect vehicle for Coward's wit and mastery of language that characterise this and many of his other plays. Crisp insults and splendid repartee and lots of wonderful one liners abound, some of which were unfortunately lost in this performance, in either dropped final syllables, or talking over the laughs, of which there are plenty.
Nevertheless, this play is pretty bullet-proof, and this cast redeemed themselves for any minor misdemeanours in some very solid performances. Brad Martin as Charles Condomine has some nice, clipped Cowardesque deliveries, and a good bout of hysteria in trying to deal with his spirited first wife, Elvira, coquettishly and sweetly played by Emily Currie. The marital trio is completed by Miriam Keane as a suitably pouty, and at times understandably hysterical Ruth (the current wife). The important role of Madame Arcarti is well played by the seasoned Jean Walker, and similarly, Steve Marvanek as the skeptical Doctor Bradman, with a very natural portrayal of Mrs Bradman by Esther Michelsen. The lesser, but crucial role of Edith the Maid) is also well played by Ashlee Scott.
A first class Director like Megan Dansie is able to attract an excellent cast for any of her plays, and this is no exception. With competent crew, period appropriate costumes (Gillian Cordell) appropriately spooky lighting (Ellen Demaaagd), and a set not easily called for in such an intimate setting as The Little Theatre, she has done Noel Coward proud.
This long-awaited production runs until the end of this week. So get there quickly if you can.
University of AdelaideTheatre Guild presents
by Noel Coward
Director Megan Dansie
Venue: The LittleTheatre, University of Adelaide
Dates: until 21 August 2021
Tickets: $25 – $20