Written by 8:05 am Newport Beach, Newport Theatre Arts Center, Review, Theater

Blithe Spirit @ Newport Theatre Arts Center – Review

Written by Alina Mae Wilson

The Newport Theatre Arts Center is currently performing Blithe Spirit May 10 – June 2, 2024.

Story:

Meet Charles (Jason Cook) and Ruth (Jessica Plotin) — just a perfectly poised, well-mannered, and well-educated couple from somewhere in Great Britain (forgive me for forgetting the exact location if they mentioned it). Charles is a twice-married novelist. In the interest of conducting research for his newest book, he and his current wife, Ruth, invite two friends and the local psychic to dinner. That evening, a séance is held, and the house becomes haunted by the ghost of Charles’ first wife, Elvira(Victoria Leigh Serra), a tantalizing, sashaying image of mockery and deprecation all awash in silver. What follows are Charles’s attempts at proving his sanity, stopping this spirit from wreaking havoc in his home, and much more.

As is often the case in plays, the first portion of the story is the characters establishing the world and providing the audience with all the backstory needed to understand things going forward. This is fine, but I think attention and interest would have been better captured if Act 1 Scene 1 was not entirely comprised of Charles (the husband) and Ruth (the second/living wife) showcasing snark in excess. Playwright Noel Coward probably intended some of that snark to come through. I wonder if he also envisioned the characters going through some sort of roller-coaster of emotion. That might’ve been nice to see. Otherwise, it’s just, “We get it. You’re sarcastic and British, and someone is dead.” However, I would like to tip my hat to performers Jason Cook (Charles) and Jessica Plotin (Ruth) for keeping things going in a relatively fast-paced and natural manner.

Acting:

The cast was strong and enjoyable to watch, but the standout performer of the night was Judy Jones as Madame Arcati. From the moment she appeared onstage, she brought an enthusiasm and quirkiness that grabbed your interest and held it close. She played her role with such a natural and realistic demeanor that I couldn’t help but be charmed. I hope to see her in something again.

Some jokes would have benefited from being more overstated rather than understated.

Overall:

It’s a decent show with some good old-fashioned British humor.

Review
7.9 Overall
0 Users (0 votes)
Story7.8
Acting7.8
Set & Design8.5
Costumes8
Entertainment7.5
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Above Average! May 10 – June 2, 2024

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