After a rain-lashed 2014 residency at Oxford Castle with Twelfth Night, English Repertory Theatre has moved this year to the drier surroundings of a tent in University Parks for its performances of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Noel Coward’s evergreen comedy of the supernatural, Blithe Spirit.

The obvious link is that each possesses a plot set in motion by a ghost. Except that in this Hamlet, stripped to 80 minutes under director Gavin Davis, the spectre of the hero’s slain father is dispensed with. His instructions to Hamlet to remember him and for revenge against his murderous brother Claudius (Peter Rae) are delivered in a letter.

Key speeches go in the interests of brevity, including Hamlet’s “stranger things in heaven and earth” and the famous advice of Polonius (Oliver Hume) to his son Laertes (Alexander Neal).

Of the female Hamlet, Rachel Waring, I have no problem. She acts very well, though in common with most of her colleagues tends to get a bit shouty. Perhaps they still think they are contending the the elements. Where I do find fault, though, is with the shifting of the action to a modern-day classroom. This makes what is already a complicated plot even harder to follow.

Much better all round is the straightforward approach taken to Blithe Spirit, in which Peter Rae’s Charles and Nina Bright’s Ruth give a properly top-drawer presentation of a couple whose marriage is put under strain by the arrival of the husband’s late wife Elvira (Charlotte Ellen), conjured from ‘the other side’ during a seance.

The medium responsible, the batty Madame Arcati, is splendidly presented by Helen Bang in a style even funnier than that offered by Angela Lansbury in the recent West End revival.