Broadway Baby
Highly Spirited
Venue: Murrayfield Parish Church Centre
Production Company: Edinburgh Makars

This production was just about as far from the frenzied, quirky performances that the Fringe is renowned for as you can get. Located in Murrayfield Parish Church, off the sleepy residential Ormidale Terrace you feel a world away from the frenetic buzz of the Royal Mile. The traditional church setting, bar some imperfect acoustics, is the perfect venue for this conventional theatrical production and its respective audience. This performance of Noel Coward’s comedy, with the quality of acting and an extremely meticulous set has a very professional feel to it.

The play takes place in the home of Ruth and Charles Condomine, who have invited eccentric clairvoyant Madame Arcati to conduct a sťance. Charles hopes to gain information on the occult for a novel he is writing however his scheme backfires when he conjures up the spirit of his dead wife, Elvira, who refuses to leave. Charles is the only one able to see her, and at first Ruth believes Charles to be either drunk or mad. However Elvira soon makes herself known to the living wife by moving a vase around the room, initially terrifying and then infuriating by her continued presence. The ghostly figure causes much disruption and Ruth begins to suspect that she is trying to steal Charles away from her.

The writing is vintage Coward, however the actors didn’t fully succeed in drawing out the laughs from the witty script until the sťance scene and the introduction of the spirit. But despite this slightly lacklustre start the audience quickly warmed to the performers and were rewarded with some fantastic comedy. This show will not please everyone, but it never set out to do that. It is a solid piece taking no unnecessary risks and for those partial to the Playwright’s work it should hit the spot. A refreshingly normal theatrical experience, unusual for the mania of the fringe, but good old fashioned theatre fun.
[Jock Maitland]