‘Blithe Spirit’ is haunting and captivating
Review — Last weekend, the Undergraduate Theatre Collective presented Noel Coward’s play “Blithe Spirit,” which was directed by Marek Haar ’20 and produced by Becca Lozinsky ’20.
The play begins when Charles (Abram Foster ’19), his second wife Ruth (Jess Cocomazzi ’21) and their friends Dr. and Mrs. Bradman (Nate Rtishchev ’21 and Alex Harrington ’21) invite the medium Madame Acarti (Blake Rosen ’21) to conduct a seance. During the seance, they accidentally summon Charles’ late first wife Elvira (Leah Nashel ’20). Elvira is dismayed to find that Charles has remarried and throughout the play makes multiple attempts to break up his new marriage with Ruth.
At first, Ruth does not believe that Elvira exists and thinks Charles has gone mad talking to nothing. She then sees a vase floating across the room, making her believe Charles and help him communicate with Elvira. Madame Acarti tries to dematerialize Elvira’s ghost and Ruth’s, after her death in a car crash, to give Charles peace of mind. During Madame Acarti’s attempts to dematerialize the ghosts, Edith (Tova Weinberger ’18), Charles and Ruth’s nervous and clumsy maid, gets a concussion.
Madame Acarti then learns that Edith was the catalyst for the materialization of the ghosts and finally succeeds in dematerializing the ghosts of Ruth and Elvira through her.
One highlight of the show was the lighting design done by Jacob Bers ’20. The lighting was simplistic throughout most of the show, which allowed the audience to focus on the characters and the action happening on stage.
However, at points of tension in the storyline, the lighting switched from its normal state to multiple spotlights flashing and spinning around the stage and set. This instilled fear in the audience and helped us feel as on edge as the characters were.
The set and costumes were both very basic but functional. Aislyn Fair’s ’19 set was bare-bones, with just a few pieces of furniture and multiple white curtains. The curtains allowed for interesting shadow play, which was fitting for a story about ghosts.
At the end of the show, the ghosts of Elvira and Ruth move around invisibly as Charles is leaving the house. The set pieces then jolt up and down, creating a sense of chaos and a knowledge that not everything is resolved at the end of the play.
Becca Rogers’ ’20 costumes, which were complementary to the characters, included a gold cocktail dress for Ruth and flowing white clothes for the ghost of Elvira. The relatively unembellished costumes allowed the acting to be the main focus of the production.
Weinberger’s acting was good, but her shy vocal style was repetitive. Her deft movements across the stage, though, made up for much of that. Nashel played Elvira with emotive acting and a varied vocal style, adding up to a spectacular performance. Cocomazzi’s portrayal of Ruth was also excellent — she brought her character to life in all respects and often brought comic relief to tense situations during the show. Foster acted well as Charles, but his version of the character was a bit flat and could have been a little more lively. Rosen was hilarious as Madame Acarti; her over-the-top acting made the character bright and fun to watch.
The play required the actors to use British accents. All of the actors’ accents were convincing and stayed consistent throughout the show. At the beginning of the performance, most of the cast mumbled a lot, making the dialogue somewhat difficult to understand. However, as the show went on, the actors improved their vocal projection.
The show was almost three hours long, but the sudden twists in the technical production and acting kept me interested the entire time.