Students practice Blithe Spirit,” which will be performed from Feb. 21-29, in Zoellner Arts Center. “Blithe Spirit” is a unique comedy about a successful novelist who wants to experience a séance. (Courtesy of Diego Lara)

‘Blithe Spirit’ uses the supernatural to create comedy

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English playwright Noël Coward’s timeless comedy “Blithe Spirit” will be performed on the Diamond Theatre stage Feb. 21-29. 

“Blithe Spirit” is about Charles Condomine, a successful novelist who wants to experience a séance to learn about the occult for his upcoming novel. 

However, Condomine did not realize that the séance would bring back the ghost of his late wife, whom only he can see. 

The ghostly form of his ex-wife tries to disrupt his current marriage.

 “This play is unique because it combines a very British, witty dialogue- kind of the way Oscar Wilde might write- with a very simple and direct physical farce, via that there is a ghost no one else can see but one guy,” said Augustine Ripa, director and professor of theater.

Coward wrote the play in 1941 after his apartment was damaged by a Nazi bombing, and he decided to flee to Wales, Great Britain. Writing the comedy in six days, Coward hoped for the play to cheer up Londoners who faced death everyday. Coward wanted audiences to laugh at the way the comedy handled its theme of death. 

“We live in a time that is perplexing to us, we worry about worldwide, global viral epidemics, climate change producing floods, fires, ocean risings and glacier melts,” Ripa said. “We worry about political upheaval. We worry about the truth being the truth. So, in these odd times, bringing back a play designed to make people just feel a little better about things seems like a good idea. That was one of the motivations behind mounting this play.”

Audiences can appreciate other facets of the play as well. With the play focusing on the supernatural, there are many stage effects that aren’t usually seen in other plays.

“It is not just the actors doing a lot of the work, the tech is doing a lot of different tricks to make it seem like there are ghosts,” said Ivery Marquez, ’23, who plays Edith, Condomine’s maid.

Dana Baker-Tubbs, ’21, the lighting designer, experimented with layering light filters to give the setting a more supernatural feel. 

She never used the technique before, but the result allowed for the setting to have several color shifts across the stage.

“I want people to get sucked into the world, and believe this magical and spiritual thing is happening,” she said. “It’s a great comedy it’s a great cast of characters. I just watched a couple run-throughs the past couple nights. The actors are doing really well, and the set looks beautiful.”

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