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Blithe Spirit

Theatre

 

 

Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward

On the afternoon of Wednesday March 11, 2009, I went to the Shubert Theatre where I saw Noel Coward's play Blithe Spirit with Angela Lansbury as Madame Arcati, Rupert Everett as Charles, Christine Ebersole as Elvira, and Jayne Atkinson as Ruth. The play, a comedy first performed in London in 1941, is about a novelist, Charles, who is married to his second wife, Ruth, and living in Kent. They invite to dinner a medium, Madame Arcati, and a physician and his wife, so that Madame Arcati can conduct a séance after dinner to enable Charles to gather background material for a novel he is writing. Madame Arcati is unaware of the motivation for the invitiation. In any event, as a result of the séance Charles’ first wife, Elvira, returns from the after-death spirit world. And complications ensue. The play itself is delightful, an especially well written work for the theatre. The focus seemed a little different this time, because Angela Lansbury was apparently considered the star. I can’t say for a certainty but I am inclined to think that there were cuts that diminished slightly some of the other roles. All of the actors were competent, and the play worked, but not so well as it might have. The chemistry between Charles, Ruth, and Elvira was a little lacking. Angela Lansbury was the only performer who made a truly stellar impression. The play was done better last year in Providence by the Trinity Repertory Company by actors who had more chemistry working together, made all the relationships seem believable, delivered the lines more effectively, and more fully realized the work’s comic potential.

 

 

Reviews of New York 2009 performances

Bloomberg.com

The Guardian

Hartford Courant

New York Daily News

New York Times

Newsday