Home » Reviews » Comedy » Noel Coward’s Christmas Spirits, St James Studio – Review

Noel Coward’s Christmas Spirits, St James Studio – Review

Pros: If you aren’t feeling Christmassy already this production will definitely have you looking forward to the 25th of December.

Cons: The structure is unsteady. The whole thing is just barely strung together with the Blitz setting and the Blithe Spirit theme.

Pros: If you aren’t feeling Christmassy already this production will definitely have you looking forward to the 25th of December. Cons: The structure is unsteady. The whole thing is just barely strung together with the Blitz setting and the Blithe Spirit theme. Noel Coward’s Christmas Spirits transports us back to December 1940 when London suffered severe damage due to intensive bombing from the Germans in the Blitz. We find ourselves in the Belgravia flat of Noel Coward (played by Stefan Bednarczyk) as he struggles with the idea of writing a play about ghosts and spirits when London is in…

Summary

Rating

Excellent

The intimate setting of the St James Studio is ideal, with the audience engaged from the start. By the end, many members of the audience joined in with the finale We Wish you a Merry Christmas emphasising the production’s Christmas spirit.

User Rating: Be the first one !
Noel Coward’s Christmas Spirits transports us back to December 1940 when London suffered severe damage due to intensive bombing from the Germans in the Blitz. We find ourselves in the Belgravia flat of Noel Coward (played by Stefan Bednarczyk) as he struggles with the idea of writing a play about ghosts and spirits when London is in such a dark place (the play in question most will recognise as the hugely popular Blithe Spirit). He conjures up Madame Arcati (Issy Van Randwyck) and Edith played by Charlotte Wakefield.

The two hour production is filled with songs, poems and readings – though we may be familiar with a large number of them, there were some which were new to me. Even with the backdrop of the red burning sky above St Paul’s, the festive spirit is enough to take hold of the audience and with the character’s forgetting about the troubles of the Blitz, the audience members are also able to lose themselves in the Christmas carols and stories. There are some hilarious moments, particularly Bednarczyk’s rendition of Coward’s Don’t Let’s Be Beastly to the Germans and the entire cast’s rendition of Hubert Gregg’s 1940’s song I’m Going To Get Lit up (When The Lights Go Up In London) garners raucous laughter and applause from the audience as the three drunkenly slump over the piano. Christmas Tree Angel had the audience clapping and singing along.

The reading of Christmas Truce by Private Frederick Heath detailing the truce between the British and the Germans on Christmas Day, when they played football and briefly forgot the war, creates a hush over the audience as the poignancy of the reading sinks in. Wakefield’s rendition of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is beautiful to listen to, as is Van Randwyck’s cover of Ivor Novello’s Keep the Home Fires Burning.

The set is simple and consists of the backdrop of St Paul’s, with a piano as the focal point of the room with a small Christmas tree on top and two chairs. The simple set means that the focus remains entirely on the cast and although it takes a while for the show to find its feet, it is easy to watch and is guaranteed to make even the biggest Grinch leave with a smile on their face.

Written and Directed by: Nick Hutchison
Booking until: 23 December 2014
Box office: 0844 264 2140
Booking link: http://www.stjamestheatre.co.uk/studio/noel-cowards-christmas-spirits/

About Laura Kate Jones

Laura Kate Jones
Works for in Central London as a Press Officer. Having been brought up in a small town deep in the Welsh Valleys, Laura completed an English degree and a Magazine Journalism Postgrad and eventually moved to London to live her dream of working in the theatre. Spending many years as an avid Alan Rickman and Harry Potter fan (we defy you to find someone who knows more about the series than her!), she ventured into the ‘Muggle’ theatre world by accident during a free afternoon in London. She spends most nights in London attending various productions while volunteering at several theatres as an Usher and Press/Marketing Assistant. She currently resides in London.