Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward, An Improbable Farce in Three Acts
Book borrowed from the DLSU Library, the privilege of using which is one of my strongest motivations (or is it my only motivation?) to keep on teaching.
Read September 23, 2009.
I didn’t like reading plays. I found it weird reading something that should be performed and watched. But I had an interpretive reading project that required the reading of a play excerpt.
My immediate choice was a Noel Coward work. I have vague recollections of watching and enjoying his plays a long time ago when I had Repertory Philippines season tickets. But the real reason I chose him was his frequent focus on marriage themes. And marriage themes translated to excerpts with two characters – a man and a woman. Which is just about all I can manage in terms of vocal variety.
Reading Blithe Spirit, I realized I had an unfair bias against plays as reading material. I enjoyed Coward’s dry Bristish humor, with a bit of slapstick thrown in. A lot of witty repartee to keep me entertained in the one-sitting reading of its three acts.
The Blithe Spirit in the title is the departed spirit of Elvira, the ex-Mrs. Condomine, who laughed too hard watching a BBC musical and died of a heart attack seven years ago. With issues to resolve with the living, she decides to drop in on Charles and his new wife, Ruth. Trouble, obviously, ensues. Mr. Condomine has to first contend with disbelief and accusations of drunkenness and lunacy. Then when Ruth finally realizes that Elvira is indeed back with the living, bickering and mayhem follow, as Elvira tries to bring Charles with her back to whatever limbo she came from. Curtain falls on a chaotic scene where the original problem of a spirit infestation is aggravated.
This is a fun, quick read. Coupled with a successful interpretive reading delivery that got me channeling Angela Lansbury to a very appreciative audience who laughed at the right time, this makes it as one of my most entertaining reads of the year.