On Sunday, I had the opportunity to attend a performance of Blithe Spirit at Northeastern’s Studio Theater. It was the first play I’ve attended on campus, so I didn’t really know what to expect from the theater department. The audience was packed when I arrived, so I took that as a good sign.
A comic play by Noël Coward, Blithe Spirit concerns the socialite and novelist Charles Condomine who invites an eccentric medium, Madame Arcati, to his house for a séance. While he intended to just get some material for his next book, the scheme backfires, and he ends up being haunted by his first wife Elvira. This naturally causes problems with his second wife, Ruth, who cannot see or hear Elvira.
In front of the curtains was a record player that played old-timey music as the guests were being seated. The music really shifted the atmosphere from a normal studio theater to one in 1941, which was the year the play premiered. It made me anxious to see the set and the costumes, because I hoped they would continue to transport me back in time.
As the curtains opened to reveal the set, I was more than pleased! It was so detail-oriented, from the patterned blue wallpaper to the fake plants outside of the window. A gold chandelier hung from the ceiling, adding to the ominous atmosphere, and a grand staircase ran along the back wall, making the set feel twice as big. As the characters came out, I noticed the differences in their costumes. Each costume seemed to match the character’s personality perfectly! Ruth had an elegant and sophisticated dress, Evira wore a sexy and playful jumpsuit and Madam Arcati was clad in a spunky and colorful outfit. These little details helped me get to know the characters better and helped keep the theme of the play.
Along with the technical aspects of the play, the acting was really well done! I was very impressed with the amount of dialogue the actors had memorized and the way they delivered it. I could feel Ruth’s anger and frustration, Charles’ confusion and cockiness and Madam Arcati’s passion for her work. I loved the jokes sprinkled into the play, especially after Elvira arrives. Elvira’s arrival was actually one of my favorite scenes because it seemed like she appeared out of thin air. I was so focused on the scene that when I caught a glimpse of her white outfit from the side of the stage, I actually jumped a little in my seat. Also, the accents were amazing! They were clear and consistent, and everyone’s dialect was on point. This made the play very believable and compelling to watch. There were times when I forgot they didn’t actually have accents!
Overall, I really enjoyed the play. It inspired me to want to perform again, and it got me very excited about my future in the theater department. The talent on stage and behind the stage was incredible, from the beautifully specific set and the ominous lighting that set the tone, to the convincing characters and their chemistry with each other. The theater department’s next production is The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (an abridged version) on March 20-24, directed by Darren Evans. After what I saw on that stage this time, I’m excited to see what they do next.