Gotham Radio Theatre Presents “Blithe Spirit”
I was recently in England, engaged in a conversation about the difference between British humour and American humor (note the spelling variations!), and this was what it boiled down to: Americans don’t do irony nearly as well as our English counterparts.
Upon getting back in the states, I had the good fortune of being able to see a show that has British “humour” at its very core, allowing me to judge for myself a comedy soaked in irony. Would I get it? Would I laugh? Would it rival every American stage comedy I’d ever seen? The answers are yes, yes, and yes! And when you add the delicious little British accents onto that, even better!
Presented by Gotham Radio Theatre, the British theatrical comedy I speak of is Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit”. Written and directed by Sydnie Grosberg Ronga, the story begins when socialite and novelist Charles Condomine (Michael Iannucci) invites the very eccentric clairvoyant, Madame Arcati (Victor Barbella) to conduct a seance at his house with the intentions of gathering juicy material for his next book, as he doubts her powers and hopes to prove her a shyster. However, it wouldn’t be much of a comedy if the entire scheme didn’t backfire, now would it? The boisterous Madame Arcati not only conjures up a ghost, but the ghost of Charles’s ex-wife, the lovely albeit temperamental, flirty, and dare we say a bit catty, Elvira (Laura Leopard). A battle ensues between Elvira and Charles’s current wife, Ruth (Valerie Gilbert), leaving the audience (and perhaps even Charles) to wonder if he wants to be with either of the hollering, haunting women! Cue the laughs!
I was particularly enchanted with the lovely costumes worn by the cast. When one thinks “radio performance”, costumes are not the first thing to pop into your head. But Leopard looked stunning in a long, plum colored evening gown, and Gilbert had on the most darling pair of vintage heels. Barbella and Iannucci looked ever so suave and debonair in their suits…but then again…it’s a British comedy. Of course everyone would be dressed to the nines!
Gotham Radio Theatre was founded in 2010 by Laura Leopard and Victor Barbella, and presents a unique theater-going experience in that the actors and sound artists are performing live on stage in vintage radio style. Along with the show, actors also re-created vintage commercials. The “sponsor” for the broadcast of Blithe Spirit was none other than Wing’s King Size Cigarettes…just what the doctor ordered!
I was delighted to find out that Gotham Radio is now available for private performances…this talented group would be sure to make a milestone birthday, anniversary, or company party one to remember!
Gotham Radio Theatre’s next performance will be Jules Verne’s “Around The World In 80 Days”, playing at the Arclight Theater, 152 West 71st Street, on June 11th at both 7pm and 9pm. Make sure to get your tickets soon, because Blithe Spirit was a full house! To ensure that you get to experience the best radio show in Gotham City, please reserve tickets on their website.
By: Jessica Tiare Bowen