Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

March 17, 2022

Preview: Majestic Theater, Blithe Spirit

Majestic Theater, West Springfield MA
through April 3, 2022
by Tim O’Brien

The formal title of this play is “Blithe Spirit; An Improbable Farce in Three Acts.” Author Noel Coward famously dashed off the formidably lengthy script in less than a week in early 1941.

Upscale British author Charles Condomine has invited village psychic Madame Arcati to his Kent home for a summer’s eve séance, as research for an upcoming novel. The spiritualist inadvertently conjures up the ghost of Charles’ young wife Elvira – deceased for seven years now. Life in the Condomine household shall never be the same.

While the inherent comic premise of the script is mild by contemporary standards, director Sue Dziura has dealt admirably with the biggest challenge (sheer time) by setting a very brisk pace. The cast - clearly up to the task - deliver their lines in a classic Coward-esque rapid-fire and keep things moving.

Russell Garrett (Charles) is at the hub of the plot, and delivers everything the role demands, from bored English privilege to terrified realization. Only Charles can see Elvira, which causes immediate problems with his very-much-alive-so-far second wife, Ruth.

Sarah Corbyn Woolf charms as the ethereal Elvira. Her arc from bemused spirit returned to Earth to malevolent plotter is well-nuanced. Jeannine Haas (Madame Arcati) earns many of the biggest laughs as the eccentric medium, giving her country-side accent and an air of genuine unpredictability.

Stuart Gamble and Christine Voytko (Doctor and Mrs. Brandman, respectively) are exactly right as the earnest country physician and his wife, who is a bit star-struck by Madame Arcati.

Caelie Scott (Edith) darts through the production as the over-eager maid, trying hard to please. She displays a lovely singing voice in the endgame as well.

For being more than 80 years old, "Blithe Spirit" has aged well, and this Majestic Theater production does it proud. Catch it if you can.