THEATER REVIEW: “Blithe Spirit” @ Capital Repertory Theatre [Berkshire on Stage]
Review by Roseann Cane
Written as a soul soother for his beloved England, which was recovering from The Blitz and devastated by the continuing casualties of World War II, Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit was a rip-roaring success. From its first performance on London’s West End in 1941 (where it ran for a record-breaking 1,997 performances), through today (Capital Repertory Theatre’s production runs through Sunday, May 6), Coward’s funny play about death remains very popular and frequently produced.
Charles Condomine (Gary Lindemann), a novelist preparing research for a book about spiritualism, decides to host a séance with the medium Madame Arcati (Eileen Schuyler). He and his wife Ruth (Brenny Rabine) invite friends Dr. and Mrs. Bradman (John Romeo and Elisabeth Henry) to join them for what they’re certain will be a most entertaining evening. During Madame Arcati’s séance, she inadvertently summons Condomine’s first wife, Elvira (Yvonne Perry), who had died seven years earlier.
Only Charles is able to see and hear Elvira, which, of course, gives him the appearance of a madman, as he chats, argues, and spars with something invisible. Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill deftly directs the orderly chaos with a great knack for pacing and choreographing some wildly amusing concurrent exchanges between Charles and Ruth, and Charles and Elvira. Throughout, the Condomines’ clumsy housemaid Edith (the hilarious Kelsey Torstveit) navigates each scene like a puppy trying desperately to please without the slightest inkling how.