Join the Séance in Incline Theatre’s Blithe Spirit

Review by Rachel Brandenburg of Blithe Spirit: Incline Theatre

Do you believe in ghosts? Or are mystics, mediums, and psychics simply frauds who have convinced themselves of their own power? This is the question raised in Warsaw Federal Incline Theatre’s Blithe Spirit, in the house of the Condomines, who have invited the neighbors and a psychic medium over for dinner. Charles Condomine (Matt Krieg) is an author in the midst of writing his next book, which, of course, involves a fraudulent medium, and wants to do the proper “research” by having Madame Arcati (Traci Taylor) over for visit. Ruth (Grace Eichler) is Charles’ second wife, with his first wife having died at a young age. The Bradmans (David Roth and Susan Jung) join in on Charles and Ruth’s wit and skepticism, remarking how amusing the evening will be.

The seance takes a surprising twist when Madame Arcati passes out during a trance, and soon the ghost of Elvira (Kayla Burress), Charles’ first wife, appears. Of course, with a catch: Charles is the only one who can see her. Hilarity ensues as Charles tries to explain his way out of his interactions with his increasingly-unruly house guest, and find a way to bring the hauntings to an end.

Overall, the production is clean, fast-paced, and keeps the audience’s attention (could you say… has them entranced?) All actors do a marvelous job of playing to each others’ levels, and no one character dominates the scene unless there is a strong reason to do so. Krieg captures Charles’ initial skepticism, then outright panic and helplessness at his discovery. We see a warmer, more open side of him as the night goes on. Grace Eichler gives a strong performance as she seamlessly embodies Ruth’s down-to-earth wit and intelligence, making an excellent foil to Buress’ airy, mischievous, yet somehow still lovable Elvira.

Allison Hinkel kept audiences laughing with her portrayal of Edith, the shy and frantic housemaid who can be seen at several intervals scurrying about the house. David Roth, as Dr. Bradman, is your typical doctor and gentleman, and Susan Jung, as his wife, channels her inner socialite, together making a natural pair of “skeptics,” as Madame Arcati would call them. Speaking of Madame Arcati, Traci Taylor executes the role with exuberance, energy, and a clear love for all of the medium’s quirks and eccentricities.

Costumes, by Caren Brady, help to punch up the qualities of the characters without taking away focus from the narrative. Elvira’s flowy, ethereal and yet girly gown makes her look right at home against the blue backdrop of the set, while “skeptical” characters like Ruth are most often seen in more clean-cut, practical-looking evening attire. Set design, by Brett Bowling, hits at all the luxuries and social class of the homes’ inhabitants, while also keeping a framed picture of Elvira center-stage–a haunting reminder of who’s really in charge in the home.

Blithe Spirit runs through July 23. Grab your friends, and maybe some salt or a protective amulet or two. You never know what’s lurking on the other side.

For tickets, call the box office 513-241-6550 or visit www.cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com

Comments are closed.