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Coulbourn considers “Blithe Spirit” to be one of playwright Noel Coward’s best comedies because it’s “a simple, silly tale”. He gives kudos to director Bedford who “as a few aces up his sleeve” including Carlson, Higlett, Lubienski, and Miller.
Ouzounian praises McKenna, who “combines the eccentric sharpness of Margaret Atwood with the ditzy charm of Dame Edna”. He finds Topham provides ” the most scrumptious work of the night”, adding Ruth “is usually the dreariest role in the play, but Topham…seizes the reins and takes control.”
Reid compared Higlett’s set design to “something out of a Merchant-Ivory movie. It embodies everyone’s idea of what a 1940s Georgian-style, English country house owned by a well-to-do writer should look like.The same goes for Katherine Lubienski’s elegant costumes”.
Seana McKenna’s Madame Arcati “bears a striking resemblance to Margaret Atwood.” Referring to Coward’s cruel wit, Nestruck concludes “It’s hard to believe in a time of misanthropic comedy from Louis CK to It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia that Coward could still come off as cruellest of all.”
In Cushman’s review of multiple shows, Cushman called “Tommy” thrilling despite what he calls the “sickly piece of rock-hero mythology” libretto. He thought “The Three Musketeers” sacrificed humour for plot details.
Portman focuses on “Mary Stuart”, “Blithe Spirit” and “The Three Musketeers”. He praises “Cimolino’s gripping vision and Peter Oswald’s sizzling new translation.” He found very little” enjoyment in The Three Musketeers and “some surprising moments of unnecessary brutality.” Portman gives kudos to McKenna’s roles such as “a performance of dotty perfection as Madame Arcati”.
“Sara Topham and Michelle Giroux are marvellous as the two very different wives…Seana McKenna is a superbly daffy Madame Arcati…Brian Bedford’s inspired production of Blithe Spirit was a resounding success”
Hadley reviews “Romeo and Juliet”, “Blithe Spirit”, and “Mary Stuart”. He enjoyed the “original practices” method in “Romeo and Juliet”, but thought Briere “is not effective”. Hardley praises the “superb” cast of “Blithe Spirit” and states director “Cimolino has assembled one of Stratford’s best casts in years” for “Mary Stuart”.
“[Carlson’s] dry wit, acerbic manner, and physical comedy make it clear that he is just as at home with Coward as he is with Schiller’s Mary Stuart – one would hardly recognize him between the two roles, so complete is the transformation.”
Smith found “Blithe Spirit” is “one of those plays that will have you laughing from start to finish.” He notes the set design’s “warm ambience of a gracious country home is immediately welcoming,” and the costumes “rich in period detail and fabric.”
Greason calls the set “posh, sprawling, and undeniably gorgeous” and praises McKenna’s performance. However, he suggests Topham should “earn to tone it down a few notches, lest she become the Jar Jar Binks of the Festival company”. Greason also didn’t like the “problematic” misogyny of the play.
Dale enjoyed Ben Carlson’s performance, “showing all of us the author’s obvious disdain for the animalistic elements of passion, long-lasting relationships like marriage and morally questionable behavior, both from women and men.”
Godfrey reviews both “The Three Musketeers” and “Blithe Spirit”. She found Abbey’s performance lacked depth and Shara’s portrayal “nearly foppy”.However,she liked seeing Goad “have such fun” with his character in “The Three Musketeers”. She felt Topham “has never been better” than her role as Ruth in “The Blithe Spirit”.
“Director Brian Bedford certainly knows this play. He directed at Stratford in 1982 with himself starring as Charles. In that production, as in all others I’ve seen, Charles is the central character. In this production,however, Ruth strangely enough becomes the central figure, and that is only one quirk that prevents this irreverent comedy about death from being quite as funny as to ought to be.”
Jones states “Taking Shakespeare” “feels like one of those contrived dramas written expressly to fill a slot”. He regards “Mary Stuart”, “Waiting for Godot” and “Blithe Spirit”. He gives kudos to Stewart, French and Hutton in “Fiddler on the Roof” and Kushnier and Nolan in “Tommy”.