Dunsfold Amateur Dramatic Society

 

Dunsfold Amateur Dramatic Society now has its own website so for full information about the history and activities of the society please go to the DADS website

However to give you a flavour of DADS' activities we are leaving on this website the following entry about the Society's 2008 production.

Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit

For more photographs see Blithe Spirit photographs

Dunsfold Amateur Dramatic Society was formed round about the same time as Noel Coward started his theatrical career and they came together last week with an impressive production of Blithe Spirit. Coward wrote the play in only seven days in 1941 to cheer the public with something amusing and escapist in the dark days of war. Last week, in these days of economic gloom, the DADS cheered their packed audiences with equal success.

Charles Condomine, a writer researching a novel about a spiritualist, invites a medium to provide a séance after a dinner party. The local doctor and his wife join Mr and Mrs Condomine and under the direction of the madly eccentric Madame Arcati, they try to summon the spirits. In spite of their scepticism, the table moves violently and the medium falls into a trance. But to their disappointment, nothing further happens. Well, not for most of them. But to Charles's horror, he hears the voice of his first wife, Elivira, who died some years before.

Once she has manifested herself, he has a hard time trying to persuade her to leave; and an even harder time explaining to his present wife, Ruth, who he is speaking to. Worse, she thinks some of the harsh things he says to Elvira are intended for her. Bored with the afterlife, Elivra is set on mischief, but her plans go wrong and instead of taking Charles into the next world to join her, she gets her rival, Ruth. Doubly haunted, the distraught man asks Madame Arcati to try an exorcism.

Madame Arcati is ecstatic to discover her powers were more genuine than she realised but reluctantly agrees to another séance. To Charles's relief, both wives take their leave. But not without continuing to make their presence felt in the form of crashing china, spinning pictures and flying cushions. No-one seems set to rest in peace.

The humour of the play was set straight away by the hapless maid (Louise Enticknap) who, with perfect comic timing, tried to conform to her mistress's ideas of decorous behaviour - but failed. Dr and Mrs Bradman (David Airey and Mary Murphy) delivered well-rounded characters as the dinner guests. Playing the devoted wife Ruth Condomine, living in the shadow of a more flamboyant first wife, first-timer Sue Packer convincingly portrayed the confusion, hurt and anger the role demands. Dunsfold's rector Paul Jenkins brought a major talent to the company, playing the beleaguered husband with aplomb and more than a hint of Noel Coward himself.

Pip Ainsworth gave a dazzling performance as Madame Arcati (which brought to mind Dame Maggie Smith), her singing and dancing totally in character. Elvira's evil mischief was played superbly by Judith Lahey-Bean, while her make-up and costume were wonderfully spectral.

The scenery was impressive, with a marble fireplace, Art Deco doors and specially-painted art-work on the walls. Lighting and sound, masterminded by Tony Cannings, played a huge part in the production. Elvira had her own ghostly lighting and the mayhem of the final scene made a perfect dénoument for the final curtain.

This was an ambitious choice of play, well-suited to Dunsfold's small stage but a wordy and lengthy script for the relatively small cast to stage for four nights. The Friday and Saturday audiences also enjoyed supper beforehand. Behind-the-scenes organisation was seamless.

Did Noel Coward ever visit Dunsfold when Dirk Bogarde lived here? Certainly I think his approving spirit was probably hovering nearby during this DADS production.

Ena Richards
25 November 2008

The Surrey Advertiser - 5 December 2008

The Surrey Advertiser - 14 November 2008

DADS Blythe Spirit