For many, the thought of being haunted by one’s former spouse might be enough to make them drink heavily. And depending upon the nature of the former spouse, the haunting could be a laugh riot or could cause an actual riot with the current spouse. In the hands of playwright Noël Coward, the master of British wit, we get both possibilities, as we relish the humor and complexity of long term commitments, even those that appear to go on into eternity.
The classic comedy Blithe Spirit focuses on successful author and socialite Charles Condomine, who must gather material on the world of the occult for his next novel. In an attempt to “pick up some jargon and to make notes on the tricks of the trade,” he engages local medium, Madame Arcati, to conduct a séance at his home in Kent. Hilarity ensues as the offbeat psychic unwittingly summons the spirit of his late wife Elvira, who has a plan of her own and who mischievously haunts the writer and wreaks havoc on his current marriage to Ruth.
Filled with razor-sharp dialogue, Blithe Spirit provides the wit and sophistication we expect in a vintage play by Coward. Directing plays infused with this upper-crust, elegant-yet-quirky style is a joy for director Craig A. Humphrey. Previous productions he has directed in this genre include Coward’s Hay Fever, last season’s immensely popular musical Anything Goes, and the musical On the 20th Century. This step back into early 20th-century elegance is one of his favorites. And the cast for this production has the perfect combination of experience and comic timing to carry it off.
Charles (Brock Graham) is a likeable and laughably flippant hauteur, who becomes increasingly “unhinged” as he is caught in the middle of a power struggle between his two jealous wives–Elvira (Brooke O’Mara), who is visible and audible to him alone (and, of course, to the audience), and Ruth (Laura Laudeman), who at first thinks he’s either drunk or mad, as he converses with the apparition.
Whereas the down-to-earth Ruth is more straight-laced, proper, and mature, and can’t quite comprehend her husband’s unusual conduct, Elvira is–as advertised!–blithe and spirited, as she floats around the room, drapes herself on the furniture, and delights in the utter chaos she causes. Madame Arcati (Kate Black) is brimming with bizarre movements and incantations, fluctuating between the serious and the ridiculous, until she ultimately admits that she doesn’t have a clue how to exorcise the spirit she unleashed.
Blithe Spirit opens Sept. 30 and runs for two weekends at IPFW’s Williams Theatre. You will definitely leave your troubles on the door step once you enter the hauntingly hilarious world of the Condomines.
“Noël Coward’s ‘improbable farce’ is really about a subject that haunts all Coward’s best comedies, which is the perils of long-term commitment.” –The Guardian
By Noël Coward
Directed by Craig A. Humphrey
Sept. 30, Oct. 1, 6, 7, 8, 2016 8:00 p.m.
Oct. 2, 2016 2:00 p.m.
Sign language interpreted performance – Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016
$5 IPFW Students/ High School Students/Children Under 18
$12 Groups of 10 or More
$12 Other College students with ID
Children under 6 will not be admitted.
IPFW Box Office
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Sept. 1–May 31 Monday – Friday, 12:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Located in the Gates Athletic Center Room 126
Patrons are encouraged to call in advance to reserve their tickets. Please arrive early. Latecomers will be seated at the discretion of management or at intermission.