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SCAN spoke to the director (Greg Walker) and lead actor (James Grant) of the upcoming Lancaster University Theatre Group production of Blithe Spirit.
What was it about Blithe Spirit that made you want to do a production of it?
GW: I saw the play a few years ago and I was interested in it, this was before I really had an interest in theatre and it really fascinated me, in terms of the script and characters. It was always kind of stuck in my mind and that was years and years ago, so its always been there. I started thinking I would quite like to direct something with LUTG, which I haven’t done before, so this play stuck with me as one that would be good to direct.
What is the show about?
GW: Blithe Spirit is a story about a writer called Charles Condomine. He is an author and invites this spiritualist called Madam Arcati round because he is doing research for his next book, he asks her to do a séance and his wife Ruth and their friends are there. They all think it’s a bit silly, but what Charles doesn’t realise is that Madam Arcati does have powers and she accidentally resurrects the ghost of Charles’ first wife Elvira. Only he can see and hear her and as that happens the play goes on and his second marriage to Ruth obviously hits the rocks. Its very funny, as it’s a comedy and very intelligently written.
Who is your character?
JG: My character is Charles; he is a forty-something, successful novelist back in 1940s Kent, which is already a stretch for me, as I have to disguise my very Scottish accent with something RP. He has been a womaniser in his time, but now is fairly settled with his second wife Ruth, seven years after the death of his first wife Elvira. When his first wife Elvira is resurrected as a ghost, he goes from being quite a together, confident, suave party host to a totally broken, hysterical wreck.
Any problems you have faced portraying the character?
JG: At the moment, one of the biggest difficulties has been my accent and that’s been something that I have been very focused on. In a way, it has let me be more natural about other things, because I have accent, accent, accent in the back of my head so everything else becomes more natural because I’m not over thinking.
What are the rehearsals like?
GW: They are intense, because of the time scale we have been on, we did our read through on the 22nd of January and our first show is the 23rd of February. The cast and crew are so devoted, they are a really solid group of people just working on everything. So even though the rehearsals have been quite intense and heavy and a lot of practising, we have made quicker progress then I thought and I think a lot of that is down to how devoted everyone is.
JG: They are good, they are intense, we certainly use every minute and hour that we have, but I really enjoy that. The rehearsal process is as much the fun bit as the show is, so I’m really enjoying it so far, because it’s such a fun, funny play and every character has comedy within them. It’s really enjoyable for everyone.
Do you face any challenges or worries?
GW: It is a big play, it’s going to be two and a half hours long including the interval. It is a big thing to put on in such a short amount of time. With the line deadlines we’ve spread them out, the cast have really followed them as best as they can. Noel Coward does write in a very intelligent way and there’s a lot of complex words so it’s trying to remember them and in what order can be tricky.
What are you most looking forward too?
GW: I’m most looking forward to the audience reaction, because I think there’s going to be some surprises and its going to be nice to see people react to them.
JG: I’m looking forward to seeing it all fully realised with costume and set.
Blithe Spirit is showing at the Nuffield Theatre, 7pm on Thursday and Friday Week 16 (23rd and 24th February). Find out more at www.facebook.com/lutgblithespirit/