28 November 2014

Spirits being sprightly

Blithe is carefree, jovial, even sprightly. Sprightly it was in Noel Coward's play, Blithe spirit. We saw the play last night and in no end of coincidences, I heard an ABCRN Hindsight program today about Noel Coward's visit to Australia during WW2. Such occurrences might have one thinking of the spiritual, and this is just the dismissive approach taken by the characters in Blythe spirit until the plot reveals itself. Husband, Charles Condamine, of second wife, Ruth, is taken aback when a seance brings his first, deceased, wife, Elvira, back into the house. Ruth is unaware of Elvira and takes umbrage at Charles, then accepts Elvira's presence; medium Madame Arcati is mightily proud of her success; Elvira plans to bring Charles to her spritely world and succeeds in killing Ruth instead so both deceased wives now pester Charles who promptly departs for his new wife-free life. Coward spoke of nothing similar in Australia; more about the English speaking world reviving Western Civilisation ... of which his light comedy is presumably one part. It's very English and frothy and of its time, but a part it is. I had a few good laughs and was mightily impressed by some of the vocabulary of these characters, and not just for the word blithe. This was a literate, wordy crowd, somewhat set in its ways (martinis, smoking jackets) but also expressing modernity (women smoking, suggestive quips, various affairs). BS was the latest production of Canberra Repertory in Theatre 3. It's a venerable company of amateurs that has been presenting theatre for yonks (estab. 1932). The acting and production values are good. M.Arcati was a blast; the wives were convincing and husband Charles was every bit the confused then divided then entertained husband, then the happily ex-. The scene was stock mid-century and the final poltergeistian flourish was homely and unexpected and a guffaw-making. This was a thoroughly enjoyable show of mid-C20th manners nicely presented and much enjoyed. Congrats to Canberra Rep.

Kate Blackhurst (Director) directed Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit at Theatre 3 for Canberra Rep with Peter Holland (Charles Condomine), Emma Wood (Ruth Condomine, Charles' second wife), Anita Davenport (Elvira Condomine, Charles' first wife and ghostly presence), Liz St Clair-Long (Madame Arcati, a medium), Don Smith (Doctor Bradman, a friend), Elaine Noon (Mrs Bradman) and Yanina Clifton (Edith, a maid)

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