There’s no doubt about it. Autumn has arrived with a colorful flair that is more vibrant than ever. Soon trick or treaters will be decked out in ghost and goblin costumes, but the best treat for this autumnal season is to be found at Two Planks Theater Company in Monroe. That’s where Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit” is being performed by a very talented cast.
Director David Halliwell, who has a knack for capturing both the elegance and humor of Coward, highlights the mystique of all things ghosts and the afterlife in a most fashionable way. The plot revolves around a research project gone wrong. Charles Condomine is writing a book titled The Unseen and has invited Madame Arcati to perform a séance at his home. He is really hoping to discover the tricks of the trade and doesn’t believe in the supernatural at all. However, by the end of the séance Charles experiences far more than he bargained for and by evening’s end, he is at his wit’s end believing that the ghost of his first wife, Elvira, has re-appeared and spoken to him.
As he tries to explain this to his second wife, Ruth, things start moving around the room on stage and the audience is held spellbound by Coward’s clever and delightful play. Bob Filipowich, as Condomine the author, couldn’t have been better cast. He is at his best when frazzled and that best describes him when he is caught between two wives. Susan Kulp plays Ruth, the second wife, and she is grace personified. If anyone could play an upper crust and decidedly classy lady, it is Kulp. Gillian Bailey plays Elvira with gusto and Jean Budney as the eccentric medium is a hoot whenever she arrives on stage. George Kulp makes a perfect sophisticated doctor and Jennifer Sokira as the doctor’s wife is quite charming. Jessica Nivison as Edith the maid is quite a natural at switching gears and stepping from an inconsequential comic character to very important character. Muriel Bailey delivers a most ghostly voice.
Brooke Burling, the executive director of the theater, designed a scrumptious set complete with Victorian trappings including a sofa that has an innate character of its own. An autumn painting and other art objects decorate the set fashionably. Rob Primorac makes the most of the light in his design and Meg Jones’ costume design is spot on.
Two Planks is a theater company embracing the know-how of professional theater talent across the board. From the creative crew and the performance cast, this theater has what it takes to draw support not only from its own town residents, but from all over Fairfield and New Haven counties. If you haven’t already discovered this theater, then it’s time that you do. This production is perfect fare for this season. The play runs through Oct. 30 at the United Methodist Church of Monroe. Box office: 203-246-5991.