I managed to catch the opening night of Blithe Spirit, Essex Theatre Company‘s second show of the summer. The performance was entertaining, humorous, and suspenseful at all the right moments, and I recommend you see it at the Masonic Lodge in Essex, NY before it closes on Sunday, August 19. Though be prepared to sit for a long while as the show is 3 hours!
Storm Outside Adds to Atmosphere
The play is set in the early 1900’s at a country estate in England. Despite a bit of stilted dialogue (probably fumbled lines just as a result of first night jitters), cosmic forces conspired to ensure a memorable opening night. While I watched the show a storm was brewing outside. The rain added a distinct atmosphere to the show and was very appropriate for the setting. Don’t they say it’s always raining in England?
The thunder also contributed to the slightly spooky nature of the play. Maybe you’ll get lucky and have a storm occur when you see the play? We have been getting plenty of rain recently!
Blithe Spirit is an intellectual performance. The characters — members of early 1900’s high society — and the script’s satiric bent will especially amuse audience members who are familiar with that era.
That’s not to say the show is not enjoyable to others unknowing of the specifics of that time and the era’s rise of interest in spiritualism. Despite its age the show is still entertaining to a modern audience. Human nature is understandable across ages!
Cast of Characters
The eccentric psychic Madam Arcati (Jacky Wardell) makes every scene she appears in hilarious. The Condomines invite her to their home to perform a séance hoping to find proof of her fraudulent powers, but after she accidentally summons the spirit of Mr. Condomine’s first wife Elvira things take a turn to the supernatural.
Elvira (Tara Robare) wears a beautiful silver dress that reminds me of the ghost stories about spirits called grey ladies. I wonder if that costume choice was an intentional reference to those myths?
Watching Mr. Condomine (Kevin Cooper) try to placate both his late wife and his current wife, Ruth (Anne Marie Holzhauer), who cannot see or hear Elvira, and trying not be thought insane by Ruth or his friends are some very amusing circumstances. Past and current lovers meeting in hostility is not a situation anyone wants to be in, though Mr. Condomine’s situation is certainly unique.
Once she learns of Elvira’s presence Ruth is determined to get rid of her. Mr. Condomine is reluctant at first to turn against Elvira, but when some ‘accidents’ begin occurring to people in the manor he begins to see that something must be done. But will he act too late? Can Madam Arcati help, or will someone be joining Elvira in the afterlife?
The maid Edith (Barbara Madsen) adds another comedic presence to the play, and the skeptical Dr. and Mrs. Bradman (Gary Hansen and Claudia Russell) complete this cast.
See Essex Theatre Company’s Show
Catch a performance of Blithe Spirit before it’s over! Here’s what you need to know:
When: Wednesday August 15, 7 pm | Thursday August 16, 7 pm
Friday August 17, 8 pm | Saturday August 18, 8 pm | Sunday August 19, 2 pm
Where: Masonic Lodge, Essex, NY
Tickets: $12 at the door | $10 pre-paid* [Essex Theatre Company]
*To receive the pre-paid rate, money or a non-refundable check for the correct amount must be received by ETC the day before the performance. The address to send payment to is: Essex Theatre Company, PO Box 117, Essex, NY 12936. Please be sure to include performances desired and contact information.
Download the ETC printable pre-paid ticket form to send in with your order.
For reservations call (518) 526-4520 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.