Period accuracy and strong ensemble bring ‘Blithe Spirit’ to life at Mount Vernon
All reviews are written by Cappies student critics and edited by Cappies adult mentors prior to publishing.
The height of British wit and upper-class satire, Blithe Spirit, written by Noel Coward, was presented by the small but talented cast of Mount Vernon High School. Initiating the genre of supernatural comedy, Blithe Spirit premiered in the West End in July of 1941, and has been adapted numerous times, to include a musical version called High Spirits.
Society gentleman Charles Condomine and his wife Ruth invite a medium to conduct a séance in their home, in order to gather material for Charles’ novel. It ends up inviting more trouble than they anticipated when Madame Arcati really does make contact with the other side, and summons the ghost of Charles’ first wife, Elvira, who is visible only to him.
Charles and Ruth Condomine (Jerry Halstead and Emily-Anne Murphy) were smooth and steady in their dialogue and diction. The members of the household, living and dead, were comfortable on set, treating it as their rightful home. This served to add to the rivalry between Ruth and Elvira for not only a place in the household but also a place at Charles’ side.
Mrs. Arcati, the medium, grew more exuberant as the scenes progressed, reflected by her increasingly eccentric costumes. One of the most memorable characters in the play was that of Edith, the fretful maid, played by actor Kodie Odalato in a Monty Python-esque style of a man in a woman’s role. This has been a frequent choice in adaptations of the play, going back to its second run, and it was certainly a marvelous success in this one.
The set was spacious, the decorations and props were thoroughly researched and completely accurate, to include a telephone, cocktail bar, cuckoo clock and gramophone. Costumes, likewise, were well researched and fit the time and place as well as they did their characters. There were some minor fluctuations with the microphones, but overall the sound system was effectively managed. However, many lines were lost through a combination of speed, volume, and lack of enunciation.
Theatrical tradition asks for viewers not to share the ending with those who have not witnessed it, but it must be said that the Mount Vernon players pulled the conclusion off admirably.