Saturday, September 1, 2012

Calshakes - Blithe Spirit

Today my wife and I got a chance to see Blithe Spirit performed at CalShakes.  It's the third of four plays, the first two being The Tempest and Spunk and the final one being Hamlet.  As I've stated in my review for Spunk, not all of the plays at CalShakes are Shakespeare plays.  Seems to me that the standard procedure are to do two by Bill S. and two other ones.  This particular play was written by Noel Coward.  I've heard of him, but I haven't read any of his works or seen any of his plays, so that alone was a treat for me.

One of the interesting things about it is that it was written while London was being blitzed by Germany during World War II.  Essentially, it was an amusing distraction from the morbid situation that was going on, and while it does touch on some darker issues, it's primarily an amusing comedy.  The basic setup is that the main character, Charles, invites a medium over to his house to perform a seance.  He's a complete skeptic, and he's only doing it to learn the "tricks of the trade" for a book he's writing.  Unfortunately for him, he invites a ghost to his home, and unfortunately for his wife, it's the ghost of his former (and attractive) wife.

Both Kirsti and I really enjoyed this one.  As I've mentioned with the Shakespeare plays, it's always best going into those knowing at least something about the story before watching.  This one, being more modern, didn't require any background information.  You could have just walked in not knowing what to expect and have enjoyed every moment of it.

The actors were definitely doing a great job, and for me the most impressive was the lead, Anthony Fusco.  He had some really great comic timing, and the biggest laughs came from him.  Of course, there were also a lot of laughs every time that Rebekah Brockman, who played Edith the maid, came on the stage.  She didn't have a lot to do, but she was really funny.  The opening gag was that she was always hurrying, and she had been ordered to slow down a bit.  Ms. Brockman did a good job with the physical humor of a hyper person trying desperately to move about in a calm and deliberate manner.

Some older folks sitting near us were talking about how they liked the Shakespeare stuff better.  (I'm guessing they were season ticket holders.)  I do too, to be honest with you.  Still, what I really like is that there has been such a good variety of plays.  Does this one have the same deeper meanings that you can find in Hamlet?  No.  (Although it quoted from that play, not to mention a phrase from Macbeth and another from Romeo and Juliet by my reckoning.)  Still, not everything has to be Shakespeare.  I was thoroughly entertained throughout the whole thing, and I hope that CalShakes does some more fun stuff like this in the future, as Kirsti and I were talking about getting season tickets again for next year.

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