Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit cheered up the audience at the production put up by the Coimbatore Book Club Theatre Group
There are flying vases, séances, a medium who constantly harps back on seventeenth-century witchcraft, screaming women and ghosts. The scene could have been scary, instead the audience at Nani Palkhiwala Auditorium had to struggle to control their laughter. They were watching Blithe Spirit, a play by Noel Coward, directed by Shashi Ghulati for Coimbatore Book Club Theatre Group, as a part of Coimbatore Vizha. The play is about how Charles Condomine, a novelist, tries to deal with two wives, one living and the other a ghost.
It all starts when the eccentric medium Madame Arcati is invited home to perform a séance. Charles wants material for his new novel “To the Unseen”. Of course, he, his wife and their friends, the Bradmans are a sceptical audience. But things change seconds after Arcati goes into a trance, and Charles sees the apparition of his former wife, Elvira. Only Charles can see her and Elvira takes the opportunity to create havoc.
She runs around, makes funny faces and dances while Charles pleads with her to return to the other world. His present, wife Ruth, refuses to believe Charles when he tries to explain to her that Elvira is right there in the room. Ruth thinks this is a ruse that Charles is pulling to end their marriage.
The plot thickens when Ruth also dies in a car crash and becomes a ghost. Madam Arcati goes into one of her trances again, and the ghost of Ruth joins that of Elvira. The two wives gang up against Charles. Finally it is the fidgety maid, who everyone considers inconsequential, who drives back the wives, leaving Charles hopping with joy.
The actors lived their parts. Sushil Jacob, who played Charles Condomine, was perfect as the self obsessed novelist, who thinks he is independent of his wives but is really not. Miriam R, was in every way the sophisticated English lady and the domineering wife Ruth. Taara Shetty as the cheeky ghost stole the show. The flighty madam Arcati, falling into a trance at the blink of an eye was played by Monisha Mathur convincingly. Mrs Bradman, played by Sapna Uma Maheshwar and Mr. Bradman, her sceptical husband, played by Subhash John were remarkably good too. The mysterious maid Edith was well played by Pooja Balaji.
The production team deserves honourable mention for the stage settings that recreated a typical 20th century living room. The props firmly established the time frame of the play. So did the appropriate costumes. Madame Arcati’s beads and scarves were perfect for her character. The other highlight that must be mentioned was the crashing chinaware, the dancing gramophone records and the great background music.