The third play in the Playhouse current season was billed as "an improbable farce by Noel Coward". Perhaps it was too improbable to work as the playwright intended.

The fault at last Tuesday’s first night lay at his door rather than at the performance which included many good things. Noel Coward’s skills lay in words and wicked observations of his contemporaries, much less so in the improbable or supernatural. Tuesday’s audience caught this; most unusually, the Playhouse final curtain call opened in silence, The set and lighting were first-rate, and the costumes absolutely right. Madame Arcati, one of Coward’s best inventions, was perfectly cast in Gilly Roberts’ lively hands.

More straightforward were the two husband and wife teams, especially the Condomines. Barbara Boothroyd as Ruth was suitably outraged by Charles’ [David Poole] unintentional insults and he in a total state of bewilderment. Julia Roberts’ light-blue ghost was appropriate, as was Ruth’s when it was her turn. Rebecca Mitchell was the responsive maid Edith.

David Hardman’s direction achieved a good pace to cope to with the improbabilities.

* Until Saturday, phone 08451 267859.

John Pettitt