The Limetree Theatre presented the College Players Theatre production of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit in its last performance on Saturday, November 17.
The ghostly comedy with an all-Limerick cast and directed by Jeanne McGlynn, sees a middle-class couple (Charles and Ruth Condomine) haunted by the spirit of Charles’ first wife Elvira, following a séance conducted by a hilarious medium.
Set-design by Gerry Lombard evokes the 1940’s, post-art deco style, while the props play an important role in the séance and ending scene.
The play opens with the couple preparing for a dinner party to be attended by the psychic, Madame Arcati. The dinner is followed by a side-splitting séance after which the ghost of Elvira makes a frightening entrance.
They cannot get rid of the ghost as Madame Arcati only knows how to summon spirits and not get rid of them. Elvira renews her love affair with Charles and begins to plot to get him ‘to the other side’. This plan backfires, of course.
The performances are stellar. The comedy rises slowly during the first scene, maintains the audience’s laughter through the rest of the play and peaks at the end with a chaotic and sublimely funny ending scene.
Nigel Dugdale (Charles Condomine) give a completely convincing and natural performance as the somewhat uncommitted husband. Cathy McGlynn (Ruth Condomine) excels in the role of the current, slightly domineering wife. Rachel Griffin is outstanding as Elvira, the blithe spirit of the first wife. Both Cathy and Rachel compete for the best outraged wife role. It’s a tie as Charles barbs strike at both equally in a confusing comic interplay.
The other outstanding performance is by Antionette Portley as Madame Arcati. She plays a medium who is surprised when her séance induced trance summons the ghostly presence of Elvira.
Fine supporting performances by Áine Hogan as Edith the maid; by Dave Griffin as Dr. Bradman and Deirdre Kiernan as Mrs. Bradman maintain the fun through-out the farce.
College Players Theatre Company
Named after St Munchins College, the College Players Theatre Company is the oldest in Limerick. The talented Rachel Griffin continues the family tradition of her father Dave (Dr. Bradman in the play); her uncle Brian (Production Manager) and follows the enduring legacy of her grand-mother Kay Hanrahan and her great gran-aunt Clare Hanrahan both members of the Cecilian Musical Society.
Noel Coward wrote the play in 1940 to poke fun at the upper middle-class way of life and an especially marriage. His acid wit ridicules modern mores and behaviours. The play was the longest running play in the West End during the 40’s and 50’s. It also had a long run on Broadway and was made into a move in 1945 directed by David Lean.