Volume 96, Issue 19
Tuesday October 1, 2002

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We love ghosts! Three perspectives on Blithe Spirit

Blithe Spirit
Starring: Tom Rooney, Gina Wilkinson, Amy Rutherford, Maria Heidler
Directed by Susan Ferley

The opening night of Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit saw fantastic performances from the entire cast. Most notably, they all managed to pull off British accents that sounded neither forced nor fake – a tough challenge for even the most experienced actors.

Maria Heidler's performance as Madame Arcati stands out as one of the funniest and most convincing.

Tom Rooney also delivers a polished act as the stuffy Charles, managing to remain gravely serious throughout some of the most comical scenes of the play.

Director Susan Ferley cleverly draws the audience into the play by having the cast smoke real cigarettes onstage. The faint aroma of tobacco permeates the theatre, making the audience feel as though they're actually sitting in the Condomines' living room.

The biggest downfall of the play is that it simply drags on for too long, clocking in at approximately three hours. By the time the second intermission rolls around, don't be surprised if you find yourself sighing with impatience.

Blithe Spirit is not for the restless cynics among us, but it's a great choice if you're interested in exploring the quirks of the spirit world, if only for a night.

–Megan O'Toole

Ghosts aren't as bad if they're hot, right?

Blithe Spirit coyly toys with this question.

In the play, Charles Condomine (Tom Rooney) accidentally returns his "dead sexy" ex-wife Elvira (Amy Rutherford) back to earth during a botched sťance.

Elvira proceeds to wreak havoc on Charles's life, focusing her cunning power on the destruction of his current marriage to the icy Ruth (Gina Wilkinson). Wacky hijinks ensue and they continue for almost three hours.

Rutherford gives the play's standout performance by turning Elvira into another worldly version of Marilyn Monroe, cooing and scheming with a seductive grin on her face.

Wilkinson is also particularly strong as Ruth, turning the woman's angry outbursts into moments that manage to be comical and tragic all at once.

The actors' fine performances are further buoyed by the production's fine set and costume design. The 1940's style clothing worn by the cast is authentic and attractive, while organization of the living room set is both clever and realistic.

Overall, the play is bound to be a hit. Sexy ghosts, witty repartee and authenticity all make Blithe Spirit a must-see.

–Maggie Wrobel

This year the Grand Theatre is opening its season with Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit, a play that much like the Grand itself, has the potential to make you sad, happy and a little annoyed all at the same time.

First off, praise must be given to everyone in the small but effective cast of seven. Tom Rooney does an excellent job as the often baffled, yet witty and in control, Charles Condomine. Rooney's mannerisms make him a joy to watch and easy to sympathize with.

On the other side of the scale, Maria Heidler plays the delightful and always entertaining Madame Arcati. Her humor and love for dancing across the stage are bound to make the audience laugh.

After watching the play, you may be torn. On one hand, from a theatre critic's perspective, the play was brilliant. The cast gelled, the set was perfect and, try as you might, there was very little to complain about.

On the other hand, as a regular theatre goer, the play seems to drag on and the little quirks – which the cast works so well to display – simply become tiring and annoying.

If you like the premise of the play, it is a fantastic production and you will probably enjoy it – though you may not love it.

–Dale Wyatt


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