Back to 2016
May 7, 2016 night – Spirito Allegro (Blithe Spirit)
Teatro Masini, Faenza, Italy
I’m redescovering Noël Coward’s plays, because of his reputation as a critical, humorous and sarcastic narrator of the society he lived in, somehow like Oscar Wilde. I find fascinating the age in which he set his stories, too. I’m intrigued by his world!
So far, I saw a TV version of “The Vortex“, starring the late Richard Warwick as a young actor (what a talent he was!), and “Private Lives” at the Gielgud Theatre in London with the exhilarating Anna Chancellor and Toby Stephens (a play I later bought with Digital Theatre).
I did take the occasion to see “Blithe Spirit“, booking for it as soon as I found the flyer of the show.
The “Compagnia Delle Feste” is an amateur company with passion for English theatre. They brought this play on stage again after six years, according to what the enthusiastic director, by coincidence sitting at my side in my bacony, told me. Their play was, of course, translated in Italian, but it didn’t lose its potential, I think.
All begins with a seance session runned by Madame Arcati, where apparently nothing significant happens. But then, only Charles, the protagonist, realises the troubles that session is going to cause him, when his dead wife appears passing through a French door!
The play makes jokes of death, (decreeing its own success, despite the early bad reviews, when it came out, because the audience didn’t care about criticism), showing Elvira, the first dead wife of the protagonist, who affirms that her husband called her from beyond during the session. She decides she wants her husband back using as many tricks as she can find, causing him lots of problems with his second wife and other people around him.
What’s worse than having one wife coming back from death? Having two wives coming back from death!! So the story goes crazy and gets a hilarious development towards the end, which the cast played with exuberance.
I quite enjoyed the play. The ghostly effects were made with just sounds and gleaming costumes and the cast pretending there was nobody around, which I found effective.
Particularly funny is the scene when Edith the maid, unaware of the ghost, keeps turning off the gramophone Elvira capriciously wants to play and then faints seeing the record she managed to put away flying in the air.
The best member cast was surely the one who played Elvira, which is also the most funny character in the story, sometimes very childish but sweet, but the whole cast did well, like Madame Arcati and Charles.
Elvira got the best costume, too, elegant and transparent, in line with the ’20s style.
The black and white set design, with only a few pieces of furniture and a big portrait of Elvira on the background, and the music recreated the spirit of the time.
Only, I heard they had to make the story shorter for that particular venue, which was a pity, because some scenes would need some more explanations.
I would have liked to see the original cast, with Margaret Rutherford playing Madame Arcati! But also the last London version with Angela Lansbury must have been great!
So, Noël Coward, Sir: I think I love you much as playwright! Thank you! To the next time!
Teatro Masini accademiaperduta.it