San Diego Theater Review: BLITHE SPIRIT (North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach)

Post image for San Diego Theater Review: BLITHE SPIRIT (North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach)

by Milo Shapiro on September 11, 2018

in Theater-Los Angeles,Theater-Regional


Is it bigamy if you’re still seeing your first wife while married to your second? Does your answer change if the first wife has been dead for seven years? Herein lies the plot and fun of a séance that goes a bit too far, leaving Charles (J. Todd Adams) to deal with Elvira (Teagan Rose) coming back from the other side and wanting all of his attention — despite new wife Ruth (Joanna Strapp) being very much in the picture.

Noël Coward’s naughty-for-its-time comedy ran nearly 2000 performances in London’s West End in 1941. With its clever twists and laugh-out-loud witticisms, any production is off to a good start with this script. Under Rosina Reynolds’ solid direction at North Coast Rep, with a lovely set by Marty Burnett, we’re pleasingly transported to the English countryside 70 years ago and confronted with a group of people that we’re entertained by, but not exactly folks with whom we’d want to be friends.

The flawed characters and selfish nature of just about everyone in the household leaves us okay with whatever befalls them — good or bad. The only one we can somewhat root for is poor, pathetic housemaid Edith (Michelle Marie Trester) whose attempts to just do her job well and please her snippy, aristocratic housemasters is beyond her simple nature. Ms. Trester steals a number of scenes with gentle, effective physical comedy and great timing. Likewise, Susan Denaker is delightful as psychic Madame Arcati, just outlandish enough to make her a sweet eccentric without turning her into a clown.

The production is rather long at nearly three hours from start to finish and there are a few times when it seems Coward was amusing himself a bit at the expense of the right length of the program. Too much exposition at the outset, especially as one’s ear is adjusting to both the accent and the rapid fire delivery, slows down the initial energy, but the pace does pick up.

Overall, the production is highly entertaining with some quotable moments. Don’t be surprised if some couples in the audience are nudging one another as they recognize themselves in the badly behaved trio of Charles, Elvira, and Ruth.

photos by Aaron Rumley

Blithe Spirit
North Coast Repertory Theatre
987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive in Solana Beach
Wed at 7; Thurs & Fri at 8; Sat at 2 & 8; Sun at 2 & 7
ends on September 30, 2018
for tickets, call 858.481-1055 or visit North Coast Rep

Comments on this entry are closed.