The comedy Blithe Spirit
was written by Noël Coward in 1941. It is, essentially, about a séance going wrong and a deceased first wife coming back to haunt her husband and his second wife, causing mayhem. Better if she’d been left to rest in peace, and, after seeing this film adaption, you may well wish the play had been left to rest in peace too. Don’t dig it up! Leave well alone! I would even add that if Dame Judi Dench can’t save an adaptation — and I was previously of the mind that Judi Dench could save anything — then you know you are in real, real trouble.
The play was famously filmed by David Lean in 1945, starring Rex Harrison as novelist Charles Condomine and Margaret Rutherford as Madame Arcati. My initial hope was that this version, directed by Edward Hall, formerly artistic director of Hampstead Theatre, who has also worked on TV shows like Downton and The Durrells, would bring something fresh and relevant to Coward, just as Sarah Phelps has done with Agatha Christie for the BBC, but no such luck.