British humour is back in town with more gut-busting comedy, featuring Sooke Harbour Players latest works: Noel Coward’s hilariously-dark Blithe Spirit.
Set in the early 40s, the play follows socialite and novelist Charles Condomine, who invites the eccentric Madame Arcati to his house to conduct a seance (a ritual to attempt communication with spirits) hoping to gather material for his book. Only, the seance takes a turn and he becomes haunted by the ghost of his first wife Elvira, who keeps trying to get in the way of his marriage to his second wife, Ruth, who’s oblivious to Elvira’s presence.
For director Drew Kemp, the same mastermind behind Annie and countless other plays in Victoria and B.C., it’s a step in a different but good direction for the Players.
“We wanted to expand the season for the Sooke Harbour Players rather than just doing musicals, they want to put a play in there. It’s as good as you can get as far as British comedies. Lots of situations that go awry,” he said, adding this is very much an “ensemble” play, as there’s no lead person that really stands out.
Kemp’s favourite part in the play is the banter that goes inbetween the first and second wife, and Charles, who is caught in the middle. The first wife is not seen by the second wife, and she’s always in the wrong place and the wrong time.
But as hilarious as that sounds, it’s also complicated to properly coordinate.
“Visually, that was a challenge for me to direct, because you have to make that believable in the first place … it’s hard to be looking at someone, but that someone is not supposed to be there,” Kemp laughed.
Alex Borradaile, who plays the ghost of Elvira, and a Players member for more than a year now, found herself in a similar challenging, albeit fun position.
“It’s neat, because only my husband can see me … I’m reacting to the people around me, but they cant react or see me, because I’m not there,” Borradaile chuckled, adding that to bring Elvira’s ghostly image to life, she’ll be going with some pale makeup and a locally-made a white gown. “It’s very flowy and got wings, very ghost-like.”
No doubt, Elvira is a troublemaker. Her whole plan is to kill her husband so they can be together, so she pulls all these pranks to make it happen.
Blithe Spirit delivers a shocking truth at the end of how these ghosts kept tormenting Charles, of course, not without giving you a few chuckles along the way.
Blithe Spirit plays on April 21, 22, 23, 28 and 30 at Edward Milne Community School theatre, with doors at 7 p.m. and show at 7:30. Sunday matinee shows door at 2 p.m., show at 2:30. Tickets are $20, free for 13 and under, and $15 for seniors.