The Lyric Stage Company of Boston offers a perfectly respectable performance though it is still a bit green at this writing.
note: entire contents copyright 2010 by Carl A. Rossi
Edith … Anna Waldron
Ruth … Anne Gottlieb
Charles … Richard Snee
Dr. Bradman … Arthur Waldstein
Mrs. Bradman … Sarah deLima
Madam Arcati … Kathy St. George
Elvira … Paula Plum
Should you stop to think about it, Noël Coward could be just as subversive a playwright as was Oscar Wilde: Mr. Coward’s “improbable farce” BLITHE SPIRIT continues the ménage à trois theme of DESIGN FOR LIVING alongside a man torn between an ex-wife and a current one in PRIVATE LIVES: in this case, the ghost of Charles’ ex-wife (Elvira) is accidentally summoned from the afterlife through a séance conducted by the dotty Madam Arcati --- since Elvira is invisible to all but Charles, second wife Ruth is driven to distraction by what only her husband can see and hear; in the end, Charles decides he can do very nicely without either of ‘em. Of course, such slams at conventional marriage are cunningly filtered through supernatural fantasy but, again, should you stop to think about it…
The Lyric Stage Company of Boston offers a perfectly respectable performance though it is still a bit green at this writing; in time, may its ensemble keep in mind that this is British Drawing Room, not American Screwball, and hold onto their accents when the plot kicks into high gear, and may the husband-and-wife team of Richard Snee and Paula Plum weave some yearning and loss into their love-duets (right now, those haunting depths have not been explored), and may Ms. Plum and director Spiro Veloudos devise some body language/choreography (accompanied, perhaps, by a soft, echoing throat-mike) to make Elvira more ghostly: when Ms. Plum’s Elvira currently strides about or plunks herself down, the results are anything but ethereal. Though I would love to see Ms. Plum and Anne Gottlieb switch wives --- when doing British comedy, Ms. Plum continues to play Dame Maggie Smith --- I would be sorry to see Ms. Gottlieb’s Ruth vanish, for Ms. Gottlieb’s dark, passionate stage-persona is bottled up, here, most amusingly, turning her into a comedienne with a delightful slow-burn; Boston’s little dynamo, Kathy St. George, sweeps onstage as a richly-characterized Madam Acarti, does the verbal equivalent of dusting the set from top to bottom before stealing everything that isn’t nailed down, and sweeps off, again, with the audience’s applause trailing after her. My own applause is for Ms. St. George taking on a non-singing role, for a change, and stretching new muscles that will hopefully lead her to a second career as a character actress --- Ms. St. George has a singer’s sensitivity for the spoken word, and she certainly has the energy to instantly bring a character to life --- and I’ll gladly wager a bet that beneath her still-twinkling surface, Ms. St. George could also make you cry, when onstage: if not as Blanche Du Bois, than as Amanda Wingfield --- for starters. Anyone who witnessed her rendition of “Black Coffee” in Stoneham’s PETE ‘N’ KEELY, years ago, will agree that there is more to this pixie than meets the eye. Now, who will give Ms. St. George her next challenge?