Wednesday, May 9, 2012
A standard device of the classic drawing room comedy is the man with too many women: a wife and an ex-wife; a wife and a mistress; dueling girlfriends. In 1941 Noel Coward added a new, um, element to this classic situation in his comedy, Blithe Spirit, about a man, his wife, and the ghost of his previous wife (deceased). A fizzy concoction as dry as a martini, written as an antidote to the gloom of World War II, Blithe Spirit materializes once more in an upbeat and elegant new production by Jewel Theatre Company, the season finale to its seventh season.
For this production, JTC Artistic Director Julie James, who frequently appears onstage, opts to stay in the background, co-directing the play with Diana Torres Koss (who also takes a featured role). Together, they cook up a spry comedy of bad manners, nicely played and beautifully designed, that captures the essence of Coward's central joke about English aplomb in the face of the utterly surreal.
Charles Condomine (an excellent Shaun Carroll), is an amiable English novelist married to droll, competent Ruth (Cristina Anselmo). They are the perfect playful, martini-swilling, wisecracking drawing room comedy couple. To gather material for a new crime novel, Charles and Ruth hold a séance in their home, presided over by Madame Arcati (played with vibrant, pealing brio by co-director Torres Koss), a flamboyant, eccentric medium swathed in robes and beads.
Imagine everyone's surprise when Madame Arcati's parlor tricks succeed in conjuring the very visible ghost of Charles' first wife, Elvira (Diahanna Davidson, in a flowing, bleached beige gown, pallid make-up and frosted wig to underscore her ethereal quality). (Read more)
(Above: Shaun Carroll and Diahanna Davidson in Blithe Spirit.)