In this inspired revival of Noel Coward’s comedy, Jennifer Saunders socks us with a hysterically funny performance as Madame Arcati, the psychic invited round to supper for what she thinks are convivial, neighbourly reasons. In fact, it is a ruse, designed so that she can be observed performing a seance by Charles Condomine (Geoffrey Streatfeild), a smug novelist who is doing research on the “tricks of the trade” for his latest work-in-progress. At a book signing, I would unhesitatingly join the queue for one of the wonderfully wayward-sounding children’s books that Madame Arcati writes in her ectoplasm-free spare time, rather than for a full set of Condomine’s romantic efforts.
The uptight, class-constipated crew of fellow diners get a great deal more than they had bargained for (the joke is more on them than Arcati). The delicious results are calibrated with a deadly droll but upbeat eye for the self-deceptions of the British class system in Richard Eyre’s zestfully canny revival.
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