The fall semester’s theatre production “Blithe Spirit,” a fictional story of a 20th century haunting, will show homecoming week, Oct. 7-9.
“Blithe Spirit” was written by Noël Coward, a prominent English playwright and author in 1941. The play opens when main character Charles Condomine, played by Grant Bennett, invites a local woman named Madame Arcati, played by Collette Vauthier, over for dinner with his wife Ruth, played by Sarah Puchalla. Joining the couple for dinner are Dr. and Mrs. Bradman, played by Jamel Showell and Kerstin Holman.
Madame Arcati is allegedly able to communicate with the dead. Charles wants to observe her behavior as preparation for his new novel about a homicidal spiritualist.
As the night moves on, Madame Arcati begins her séance and later falls into a trance. Shortly after, Charles hears the voice of his dead wife Elvira Condomine, played by Abby Horgan, who had passed away a few ago.
Following the séance, Elvira continues to make her presence known by causing Charles to have accidents until she eventually attempts to kill him, so she can have him to herself. At times, Charles’s and Ruth’s maid Edith, played by Adrian Benn, gets hurt in Elvira’s reign of terror against the Condomine’s.
Madame Arcati proves to be unable to help Charles get rid of Elvira. She insists that he is only seeing her because he wants her back. Elvira continues to wreak havoc on Charles’s life and creates a sort of love triangle between herself, Charles and Ruth.
The play has relatively few characters. “Blithe Spirit” is a rather small play compared to others that have been performed in the theatre department. Most of Virginia Wesleyan’s productions have 20 to 30 individual parts, while “Blithe Spirit” only has seven.
Sophomore Abby Horgan stated that when she was auditioning, she was a little nervous knowing that there were only four female roles in the entire play.
Over the years, the theater department has undertaken a range of different projects.
“Having big casts and small casts show the flexibility of the theater,” Dr. Malone, head director of the play and associate professor of theater, said.
While the fall production this year is smaller than in years’ past, there are plenty of opportunities for acting parts with the student directed One Acts later this fall as well as another production next spring.
“One philosophy of the theatre department is to do a variety of different types of plays for the students and the audience and this was a more classic piece,” Malone said.
One of the main characters in the play is the ghost of Elvira. Interestingly, her character’s portrayal will most likely be the most challenging.
“In theater we really rely on a willing suspension of disbelief, the audience is willing to go along with it as long as we stay consistent,” Malone said.
Students will just have to wait and see how Elvira will haunt the characters in the play.
While the play may come off as something that is just supposed to be funny, it actually has an underlining theme: realism.
“It’s not just about haunting and spiritualism, it’s about how we treat each other,” Malone said.
The play gives you a lot to think about. It makes you think about relationships and how each one is different. The audience will be able to see that in how Charles treats Elvira differently than he treats Ruth, especially since both women’s personalities are very different.
Another thing the play shows is how it’s important to think about how people treat each other and the legacy you’re going to leave. After viewers finish watching this play, Malone hopes the audience will strive to treat others better.
“If we fix that, those lasting memories can be good ones rather than bad ones,” Malone said.
“Blithe Spirit” hopes to give viewers a bit of laughter, a dash of suspense and life lesson on how to treat people.