By Michael “Buzz” Buzzelli, ‘Burgh Vivant
The Condomines are hosting an unusual dinner party. Charles (Eric Leslie) and Ruth (Stacey Rosleck) have invited the Dr. & Mrs. Bradman (Rick Bryant and Aleta Richmond) and the eccentric Madame Arcati (Ina Block) to hold a séance in Noël Coward’s “Blithe Spirit.”
Charles, a skeptic, is researching mediums for a new book he’s writing. He doesn’t believe in the supernatural, nor does his colleague Dr. Bradman. The moment their nervous nelly maid, Edith (Sydney Turnwald) opens the door and invites in their guests, all hell – literally and figuratively – breaks loose.
And Charles’s opinion on the existence of supernatural forces changes when the ghost of his dead wife, Elvira (Rebecca MacTaggart) shows up. Only Charles can see and hear Elvira which makes for a few awkward conversations. Mr. Condomine yells at either former or present Mrs. Condomine, both ask, “Which one are you talking to?”
It’s confusing for the haunted couple, but it’s hilarious for the audience.
Things take a misfortunate turn when Elvira decides his late wife should join him in the afterlife. But the best laid plans of specters and ghosts, of go awry.
“Blithe Spirit” is delightfully directed by Rachel Pfennigwerth.
MacTaggart wonderfully brings the ghost alive as Elvira. She glides around the scenery in an ethereal way- aided by her flowing white dress constructed by Jessica Kavanagh.
Leslie is a terrific Charles. At first, the model English writer, witty and intelligent, prim and proper – until his ectoplasmic wife shows up – then, he’s reduced to a bewildered and blathering simpleton. Watching the supercilious Charles get his comeuppance is half the fun.
Block’s Arcati is a charming loon. She speaks in her own parapsychological language, which also confounds the Condomine’s and befuddles Bradman’s. It would be easy to tire of Arcati’s eccentricities, but Block does it with such style and grace you crave more of her craziness – as much as she craves cucumber sandwiches!
“Blithe Spirit” is a fantastic part for the leading lady, Elvira, but it’s also a fantastic part for her counterpart, Ruth. One can be considered the villainess and one the heroine – until it’s difficult to tell which one is which. Rosleck manages to parry and thrust witty bon mots with Leslie’s Charles and scathing jibes at MacTaggart’s Elvira. Rosleck does it with aplomb.
Turnwald does a great job as the scattered and ditzy maid.
Coward’s comedy is long, but its packed with witty repartee and rambunctious laughs. It’s a lengthy but thoroughly enjoyable evening.
“Blithe Spirit” runs till November 2 at Little Lake Theater, 500 Lakeside Drive South (across from the Mad Mex), Canonsburg, PA 153017. For more information, click here.