Charles lives with two wives. Is it bigamy? Not exactly. There are no such laws when one spouse is a ghost! The continuing resurgence of psychics and mediums throughout the media has turned this 1930s Noel Coward farce into a surprisingly relevant event.
The Rockaway Theatre Company’s current production of “Blithe Spirit” stays true to the original English version in many ways. The actors use heavy British or cockney accents. A gramophone and Irving Berlin’s song “Always” are also concessions to the original era.
Director Michael Wotypka and Producer Susan Jasper enlist the services of one of the most prolific and talented performers in our region, Chazmond J. Peacock. As Charles Condomine, he counters verbal and physical jabs from his competitive and cunning wives. Peacock mixes just the right amount of sarcasm, frustration and humor to create his likable but very self-indulgent character. His ghostly first wife Elvira (Luisa Boyaggi) is a spoiled specter who is deliciously deceiving. She hatches diabolical schemes against her beloved husband with childlike innocence.
Second wife Ruth, played by Reanna Flemons, has the unenviable task of competing against an apparition. Ms. Flemons is excellent as she tries to placate her seemingly unhinged husband and match wits with an unearthly opponent. Meanwhile, Susan Corning as Madam Arcati plunges into her role as a clairvoyant with determination and glee. At times, her supernatural experiments are scene stealers.
Edith the maid (Yael Shavitt) is not to be underestimated. She just might provide an important link. Dr. George Bradman (Frank Freeman) and his wife Violet (Leslie Ross/Susan Hartenstein) fill important segments of the story line, providing some reasonable behavior in this ghoulish comedy. Also providing support are numerous special effects during the final scene. Lights flash, bookshelves fling their contents, portraits swirl, the chandelier plunges to the ground. Look out!
The Rockaway Theatre Company is housed at the Post Theater at FortTilden, in partnership with the Gateway National Recreation Area. Call their hot line at (718) 374-6400, surf to www.rockawaytheatrecompany.org or email them at RockawayTheatreCo@nyc.rr.com.
As summer ends and regular routines return, local stages reorganize for the autumn season. As always, save me a seat on the aisle.