by Rebecca Murtha, Albert Einstein High School
Skeptical about the supernatural? The lively cast of phantoms and psychics in the Mount Vernon High School Players’ Blithe Spirit might just be enough to transform you into a believer.
Noel Coward’s dry British comedy begins on an evening like any other, with Mr. and Mrs. Charles Condomine hosting dinner for a few friends. The evening might have ended normally had they not invited spiritual medium Madame Arcati (Courtney Kramer). The clairvoyant manages to conjure up Charles’ first wife, the alluring Elvira (Darian Abenes). Mayhem and hilarity ensue as she and second wife Ruth (Emily-Anne Murphy) duke it out over Charles (Jerry Halstead).
Despite some trouble enunciating through British accents, the small cast of Blithe Spirit did an excellent job establishing and maintaining relationships between characters. The good natured give and take between Halstead and Murphy brought warmth and affection to their characters’ marriage. Yet, as tension increased following Elvira’s arrival, both actors were able to find a caustic tone recognizable to anyone who spends much time around world-weary middle age couples. Abenes played an airy foil to Murphy’s matronly portrayal of a 1930s housewife. Abenes’ lilting voice and glamorous gown with its rippling gray gauze (very becoming of a ghost!) were perfect for her character. In addition, her very presence onstage seemed to bring energy to the rest of the cast. After her first appearance, the pace of the show quickened noticeably.
As the medium, Kramer was a high spirited presence. Her flighty gestures and mannerisms paired perfectly with her huge Mary Poppins carpetbag and eccentric flowered prints and poppy red suits (costume heads were Paul Aubuchon and Kodie Oddolato). The easily startled maid, Edith (Kodie Odalato), was also quite an entertaining spectacle.
The set and props team created a decadent living room with attention to every detail. From the books lining the shelves to the beautiful ornaments on the walls, everything looked perfectly in place for an upperclass British household. The stage crew can almost be forgiven the lengthy scene changes because of the set’s beauty.