'Blithe Spirit' has jovial take on afterlife

Thursday, November 3, 2005
Charles Condomine, played by Chris Eddleman, talked with his deceased wife, Elvira, played by Chrissy Renick, in a scene from the Notre Dame Regional High School production of "Blithe Spirit." (Fred Lynch)

Blithe -- an adjective meaning of a happy, lighthearted character or disposition.

"Blithe Spirit" -- a play about a supernatural kind of love that opens tonight at Notre Dame Regional High School.

In the name of the Halloween season, the drama team at Notre Dame chose "Blithe Spirit" as a jovial take on the afterlife and the bonds between the ethereal plane and our own. "Spirit" isn't scary or suspenseful, but it does use ghostly forces to explore the themes of love, jealousy and self-interest -- emotions that are so strong they are carried over into death. The afterlife plays a central role in the show, but Noel Coward's piece is, well, blithe.

"Blithe Spirit" takes place on an English manor, the home of the author Charles Condomine (senior Chris Eddleman) and his current wife, Ruth (junior Dana Wozniak). As the first scene starts, the Condomines are discussing Charles' ex-wife, Elvira (junior Chrissy Renick), who met an untimely death by cardiac arrest while listening to the BBC on the radio.

Elvira will, of course, be summoned back into Charles' life at a seance led by the eccentric (that's polite for crazy) Madame Arcati (junior Laura Hermsdorfer), becoming the blithe spirit for which the play was named. That is, unless that title refers to all the bourgeoisie booze (martinis, sherry, etc.) the characters indulge in.

A strange and morbid love triangle arises, made up of a dead wife, a living wife and one living, distressed and confused husband. He becomes, as wife Ruth calls him, "an astral bigamist."

Together they pick the man apart as the jealousy grows between them, all the while spouting witty British banter for dry humor.

"Spirit" isn't the most polished of high school plays -- many of the actors have little stage experience and they sometimes seem unnatural or without enough passion. But they are able deliver their lines and portray characters with distinct attributes and personalities.

A few performances stand out, no matter how minor the character's chunk of time on stage. Sophomore Carly Schneider is on point as the Condomines' maid Edith, a young Cockney servant with ill manners. Hermsdorfer's Arcati commands attention when on stage with her overbearing enthusiasm for the supernatural and strong voice projection. Elvira also commands attention with a ghostly costume and make-up job and just the right amount of venom and mischief inflected by Renick.

Sophomore Jonathon Sarno and senior Chelsea Spaeth provide support as Dr. and Mrs. Bradman, friends of the Condomines. Cynthia King directs and senior Kristin Enderle and sophomore Katelyn Enderle assisted in production.

msanders@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182


Want to go?

What: "Blithe Spirit"

* When: 7 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 3-5

* Where: Notre Dame Regional High School cafetorium

* Info: 335-6772

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