Streaming highlights April 2-6: Blithe Spirit, A Teacher & Bad Trip

CHEMISTRY: Dan Stevens and Australian Isla Fisher delight in the remake of Blithe Spirit.
CHEMISTRY: Dan Stevens and Australian Isla Fisher delight in the remake of Blithe Spirit.

BLITHE SPIRIT

Amazon Prime

WHEN playwright Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit first hit the West End in 1941 it was met with rapturous delight and went on to set a long-run record for non-musical plays with 1,997 performances.

Obviously a husband's dilemma in dealing with two wives - one alive, one dead - provided much-needed relatable comedic relief to the war-torn nation. The play would become a feature film in 1945.

Blithe Spirit has again been summoned back to life in 2021 with an all-star cast of Dan Stevens (Downtown Abbey), Isla Fisher, Leslie Mann and Judi Drench, and it remains an hilarious romp.

Set in 1937, Stevens is English crime novelist Charles Condomine who is struggling with writer's block since the death of his American wife Elvira (Mann) seven years earlier.

His second wife of five years Ruth (Fisher) is becoming increasingly frustrated with Charles' lack of progress and continued infatuation with his deceased first wife.

In desperation Charles seeks the help of medium Madame Arcati, played devilishly by Drench, who summons the ghost of Elvira in a séance. This leads to chaotic consequences for Charles as he's caught between two competing wives.

Fisher, Stevens and Mann are all superb in this intelligent, yet old-fashioned, comedy which conjures up as many observations surrounding authenticity, truth, and even feminism, as it does ghosts.

A TEACHER

Binge

CONFLICTED: Kate Mara plays the troubled Claire Wilson in A Teacher.

CONFLICTED: Kate Mara plays the troubled Claire Wilson in A Teacher.

THE double standards held in society, at large, about sexual teacher-student relationships based on gender are laid bare in A Teacher.

The first half of the 10-episode series serves as a titillating teen drama about a bored and lonely 30-something English teacher Claire (Kate Mara) who begins a sexual relationship with her charming 17-year-old student Eric (Nick Robinson) to seemingly add excitement to her life.

Rather than display their interactions as grooming and abuse, A Teacher turns the sordid affair into an ill-fated love story, complete with sex scenes.

You can hardly imagine a drama portraying the relationship in this manner if the teacher was male and the student was female.

It's not until the second half of the series, when the affair is exposed, that A Teacher provides a more credible job in examining the long-term legal and psychological impact the relationship has caused to Claire and Eric and their families.

Mara (House Of Cards) is impressive as Claire, who swings compulsively from committed teacher and loving wife to mentally distant and unstable abuser.

It's a series that will pose questions as well as entertain.

BAD TRIP

Netflix

IF you took Sasha Baron Cohen's Borat and mixed it with heavy doses of insane prank comedy Jackass, you'd get a fair idea about the intentions of Bad Trip.

This bizarre comedy plays on humiliation and the reactions of the general public through a series of outlandish pranks captured on secret cameras. While Borat drew its humour from ignorance, Bad Trip places its stars Eric Andre and Lil Rel Howery in the awkward positions.

Bad Trip aims low, and as a result, never rises above several gross-out moments.

This story Spirited reboot offers hilarious romp with all-star cast first appeared on Newcastle Herald.