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Arts and Entertainment

Cheeky Ghosts and Post-Mortem Slapstick in Blithe Spirit

Blithe Spirit.jpg
Scott Lowell and Abby Craden in Blithe Spirit. (Photo courtesy of A Noise Within.)
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Blithe Spirit is currently running as part of A Noise Within's 19th season. Cheeky physical comedy drives Noel Coward's story of a pre-war ecoplasmic menage a trois peppered with quirky characters and domestic disputes. Coincidentally, the play aptly takes place amid the stoic shadows of the Historic Masonic Temple in Glendale -- a perfect contextual setting for a high-brow ghost story.Working through a perfectly chosen cast and just enough ethereal eeriness to make the audience sweat, director Damaso Rodriguez does an exemplary job of balancing the strong theatrical elements of Blithe Spirit. Comedic banter is tactfully blended with strong character eccentricities, while clever staging enhances subtle slapstick. Rodriguez does not drown the play in overly gimmicky theatrical effects, but instead allows the inherent wit of Coward's dialogue to shine through.

Scott Lowell beams in the lead role of novelist Charles Condomine. Lowell's presentation of dry humor is refined and naturally energetic, giving the entire production a distinctively buoyant and crisp quality. Avoiding the slurred childish chalkiness of the 1945 Technicolor version of Elvira Condomine, Abby Craden is a superior incarnation of Coward's acrid apparition. Craden is both creepy and sultry at once -- a seemingly weightless, slightly bawdy and Gothic ghost with excellent comedic timing. Swathed in an envy-evoking vintage wardrobe, the graceful Jill Van Velzer plays straight woman Ruth Condomine flawlessly with a beautifully executed final exit.

Blithe Spirit is playing at A Noise Within until December 17, 2010 at 234 S. Brand Boulevard, Glendale, CA 91204. Tickets can be obtained via phone at 818-240-0910 or online at www.anoisewithin.org.