Unfortunately, SUSU’s latest production of Blithe Spirit didn’t get off to the best of starts as the show began about 10 minutes late, but things improved with the entrance of Elvira. Samantha Sharp must be complimented on a fabulous performance as the aforementioned ex-(living) wife. She was sharp (as her name suggests), sly, enticing and brattish all in the space of a few snippets; she stole each scene that she was in.
However, it was perhaps the smallest part that stole the show. Ian Bessant was fabulous as Dr. Bradman and he thoroughly earned the ‘Ha!’ given during a physical gag involving a wine glass and a table. Ian was understated, had great comic timing and felt very- ‘Doctor’ ish.
Sadly, the production wasn’t fault free, and despite being opening night, many of the mistakes should perhaps have been ironed out by this stage.
Emma Frazzitta- who played Ruth- lacked confidence in her lines and was delivering them at a mile a minute and with a lack of focus throughout. Jordan Gardner (Charles) had the potential to be great but he very annoyingly found himself swept away by audience members in the front row and ended up corpsing whenever a titter arose from the ranks. He also broke the fourth wall, smirked on occasion and mixed up the names of his wives more than once, even using ‘Elruth’ to describe one of them rather than the names ‘Elvira’ or ‘Ruth’.
Regretfully the most unforgivable moments did not come from on stage however. They came from the director and crew.
The director (Bram Stein) sat front and centre on the very first row and towards the end of the play turned, nodded and mouthed to the tech box to dim the lights at a certain point and even stood, spoke a few words to a fellow audience member and ran (rather loudly) to the back of the room, keys jangling for a completely unknown reason, returning with a clatter to his seat, spoiling the last few moments of the play entirely.
As for tech, the sound and lighting looked excellent for an amateur production but whoever was running the desk, you must please keep quiet.
The one truly good moment of the play came between Elvira and Charles but this was ruined by the ‘hissssss’ of whispering from the desk and the expletives mumbled during a missed light cue.
Of course, this was a non-professional production but this performance felt like that of a dress rehearsal performed for a group of friends. Hopefully the production will settle quickly into the run, and first night issues won’t be repeated on other nights.
Blithe Spirit runs until November 3rd.