Deep Cove Stage Society, Deep Cove Shaw Theatre, April 6 - 21st
My Two Cents
By Emma Rossland
Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit” is a British farce written during World War II and is considered by many to be a classic. That being said, there are certain things within the script itself that do not translate well to the present day. Deep Cove Stage Society, however, did a great job of putting on an entertaining show.
The play is set in Charles and Ruth Condomines’ drawing room, where the couple invite the Bradmans to a séance performed by one Madame Arcati. The whole event is planned by Charles, who is doing some research for a new novel, and is not taken seriously by anyone other than Madame Arcati. The séance accidentally brings back the ghost of Charles’ first wife Elvira and, as you can imagine, this causes much strife with his current wife Ruth.
First of all, the production faced a few complications because of having to replace two actors. Director Jacqollyne Keath took on the role of Madame Arcati not long before opening and due to injury Trish Ewen stepped into the role of Edith with less than a week to go. I’m hesitant to critique these two actors as I think they performed admirably under the circumstances. Keath, being the director, transitioned almost seamlessly into the role of actor. Ewen, in her acting debut, saved the day when she was asked to tackle her new role.
The three leads: Mary Stockwell (Ruth Condomine) Andrew Lissett (Charles Condomine) and Ruby Hobbs (Elvira Condomine) carry the play beautifully with their performances. The scenes between the three are fast paced and quick witted. Stockwell does an excellent job of not being able to see the ghost of Elvira. The scenes between the three leads were particularly funny as Elvira’s invisibility causes many misunderstandings. Stockwell also seemed to carry some of the supporting actors by picking up their dropped lines at times. Lissett made a good show of trying to deal with his “two” wives and getting increasingly fed up with them. Hobbs may have stolen the show with her performance as the ethereal Elvira, flitting and dancing across the stage, causing mischief and mayhem.
Certain things, however, could definitely be improved upon. The layout of the set itself is a tad awkward. This combined with the blocking of certain parts had the actors’ backs to the audience, at times for nearly the entire scene. This not only made some of the dialogue difficult to hear, but also separated half the audience from the action and some important moments. There were also times when actors stepped on each other’s lines or momentarily forgot lines and had to be rescued by a fellow actor.
As mentioned before, the script, being from the 40s, does not entirely lend itself to a modern audience. There are some racist comments such as Madame Arcati describing Indians as “lazy”. It is also entirely too long for the modern theatre goer. In the fast paced world we live in, three hours, even with two intermissions, is far too long to spend sitting in a theatre. There were many things Coward could have cut. Although the dialogue was witty and interesting after three hours the wit seems to run a bit dry. There are many slow scenes, especially at the beginning that could have been cut short. The slow pace at the beginning does pick up, especially when Elvira’s ghost appears.
Though the show does have its faults, many due to Coward’s script itself, this is a fun show to see. The three leads are a delight to watch and will keep you invested in the story. And though the play may start off a bit slow, it certainly ends with a bang!