BLITHE SPIRIT, A Noel Coward Comic Farce, Plays at DCP Theatre

by Kelly Thunstrom

Jan Thompson, John Weber, Lisa Harner, Emma Stowger, & Rich Geller star in BLITHE SPIRIT, running at DCP Theatre in Telford PA through October 2. (Photo credit: Colleen M. Algeo)

One of Noel Coward’s most endearing works is BLITHE SPIRIT. The comedy is at times subtle, and at times laugh-out-loud funny. It requires the utmost chemistry among its participants, with pauses coming at a miniscule rate. The DCP Theatre’s production succeeded at this for the most part, but I am sure will get the kinks out for future performances.

Directed by Jason Salotti, BLITHE SPIRIT tells the story of married couple, Charles (John Weber) and Ruth Condomine (Emma Stowger), who live with their household staff, including maid Edith (Maria Serino). One evening, the Condomines invite Dr. (Rich Geller) and Mrs. Bradman (Jan Thompson), as well as Madame Arcati (Lisa Harner), a medium, for a séance. Madame Arcati takes her work very seriously, but the others are not expecting anything to happen. Things get testy when Charles’s deceased first wife, Elvira (Michelle Reider), is called from the afterlife. Unfortunately for Charles, he is the only one who can see and hear Elvira. As you can imagine, she eventually makes very rough waters for Charles and Ruth. However, Charles begins to enjoy having two wives at his disposal, one dead, the other alive.

The set design, by Caris Baliles, is beautiful, with old-fashioned furniture, terrace doors that open, and a stone fireplace. Baliles also designed the authentic costumes. I truly believed that this was taking place in the time and location it is supposed to…1940s England.

The DCP Theatre simply must do something about the noise of the fans and the temperature control. Every single line must be heard in a Coward play (especially when they are speaking with British accents), and it was extremely hard to hear with the air conditioning and fans blowing. I didn’t hear most of what Madame Arcati was saying before intermission. Most people in my section were complaining about the cold and kept their coats on through the whole production. The theatre must be comfortable in order for an audience to be fully engrossed. To the theatre’s credit, they did turn everything off at intermission.

John Weber (Charles) & Michelle Reider (Elvira) in a scene from DCP Theatre's BLITHE SPIRIT. (Photo credit: Colleen M. Algeo)

The play really began to get rolling when Reider took the stage in her ethereal green dress. She has comic timing at its best. The best scenes of the night were between Charles and Elvira or Charles and both of his wives together. Other scenes, such as one between Ruth and Madame Arcati, moved at a molasses pace. A farce needs to move quickly, and there were some unexpected pauses between lines. However, as I said before, I am sure the pace will pick up after opening night.

Act III is when all actors finally have their timing to where it needs to be. The special effects in the last scene when the actors leave the stage are very well choreographed.

By Noel Coward
Directed by Jason Salotti
September 16-October 2, 2011
DCP Theatre
795 Ridge Road
Telford, PA 18969

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