NEW REVIEW GO BLITHE SPIRIT

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Photo by Craig Schwartz

Noel Coward's comedy faced an acid test in its first outing: It opened in the darkest days of World War II, when London was undergoing the Blitz. It kept Londoners laughing even when bombs were falling, and it has proved hilarious ever since. As research for his new novel, writer Charles Condomine (Scott Lowell) calls upon eccentric spiritualist Madame Arcati (Jane Mcfie) to conduct a séance at his house. She unwittingly summons the ghost of his predatory, provocative first wife Elvira (Abby Craden), to the distress and frustration of his second wife, Ruth (Jill Van Velzer). Endless comic complications ensue. Lowell is a dapper, slightly preening Charles, and the svelte Van Velzer turns in a waspish Ruth. Among the highlights of director Damaso Rodriguez's fresh and funny production, instead of the filmy creature we have come to expect as Elvira, Craden gives us a galumphing, earthy ghost clad in a satin-and-lace teddy and flapping crocheted peignoir. Macfie's a brusque and business-like Arcati, and Alison Elliott scores comic points as a parlor-maid who insists on performing her duties at warp speed. Gibby Brand and Jacque Lynn Colton round out the cast as the Bradmans, a local couple summoned to witness the séance. A Noise Within, 234 South Brand Boulevard, Glendale; variable schedule. Call theatre for info at (818) 240-0910, x-1, or ANoiseWithin.org. (Neal Weaver)

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