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Paranormal shenanigans in Blithe Spirit 

Life after farce in Blithe Spirit

Photo by Curtis Brown

Life after farce in Blithe Spirit

Is there life after farce? The answer for BLITHE SPIRIT is still yes. In its subtitle, Nöel Coward calls his play improbable, a fair assessment of a light comedy about ghosts and séances that became the West End's most durable smash during Nazi Germany's assault on London.

Under Tony Lea's brisk direction, the humor in Raleigh Little Theatre's revival of this classic is every bit as dry as those martinis novelist Charles Condomine (an urbane John Allore) keeps prepping for everyone in designer Thomas Mauney's cozy little drawing room.

The plot's well-known: Something goes wrong when Charles, researching his new book, invites the imperious medium, Madame Arcati (Marilyn Gormon), to conduct a séance at his home. The ghost of Charles' first wife, Elvira, manifests—and then refuses to leave. We soon learn that Elvira has more on her agenda than catty asides and renewing old acquaintances.

This production boasts the strongest ensemble of any recent show I've caught at RLT. In Vicki Olson's droll costume, Anne-Caitlin Donohue camps it up, evanescing all over the place as the captivating, cool and calculating Elvira, while Page Purgar is her perfect foil as Ruth, Charles' current (and increasingly discontented) wife.

Comic actor Izzy Burger steals several scenes as the over-caffeinated maid, Edith, while suave John Paul Middlesworth and bubbly Kelly McConkey amuse as family friends Dr. and Mrs. Bradman.

By evening's end, the crew demonstrates that this 73-year-old ectoplasmic ménage à trois still has plenty of afterlife in it.

This article appeared in print with the headline "Imagine that"


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