EXCERPTS FROM THE REVIEW
The following are excerpts from the June 2, 2015 DC Theatre Scene Review of Blithe Spirit by Jayne Blanchard
Sign of a good time had by all? Patrons of Everyman Theatre’s Blithe Spirit in the parking garage elevator making plans to return for another performance.
Daniel Ettinger’s bespoke living room set seems to have leapt from the pages of Town & Country—Morris wallpaper, Art Nouveau and Deco sconces and chandeliers, “important” paintings and Arts and Crafts-style furnishings and textiles. In this posh setting, the Condomines enjoy country living.
Charles Condomine (Bruce Randolph Nelson) is a novelist needing some research on sketchy psychics for his next book. He and wife Ruth (Megan Anderson) throw a dinner party for friends Dr. and Mrs. Brandon (Carl Schurr and Helen Hedman) and a guest of honor—celebrated medium Madame Arcati (Nancy Robinette), a bicycling eccentric with the hearty air of a girls’ school field hockey player.
Between the after-dinner coffee and Madame Arcati executing some Isadora Duncan-style dance moves—Robinette’s whooshing of the curtain sheers is a comedic ode to Loie Fuller—to get in the paranormal mood, something supernatural occurs.
The entire cast succeeds in keeping Blithe Spirit as carefree as a summer frock. Nelson and Anderson are particularly good at the thunderball pace of Coward’s dialogue—they banter like a couple of swells from 1920s Hollywood.
With her Betty Boop eyes and crisp dark bob, Anderson looks like a fashion illustration of a flapper, only with the comedic grace and timing of a silent movie star. Helen Hedman adds elegance and a touch of warmth as the socialite Mrs. Bradman.
Few actors do falling apart better than than Nelson, who unravels with cosmopolitan panache as Charles. Nelson really gets rolling in the second act, moving astutely between the debonair and the desperate.
Robinette contributes a sterling performance as Madame Arcati, every gesture a pip, capturing the medium’s dotty oddities with delicacy and style so she is not a foolish figure but perhaps an adorably over-enthusiastic one. In the pivotal role of the fleet-footed maid, Julia Brandeberry combines balletic clumsiness with working-class solidity.