Director: Sharon Ott
Scene Design: Ron Keller
Projection Design: Katherine Stepanek
Lighting Design: Maranda DeBusk
Costume Design: Margo Birdwhistell
Sound Designer: Chandler Oppenheimer
Clarence Brown Theatre - 2020
Written by: Noel Coward
To most of us, the definition of ectoplasm is "a slime in 'Ghostbusters.'" To a more select group of people, it is the outer layer of cytoplasm that helps make up an amoeba. To an even smaller subset of the population, ectoplasm is a ethereal substance that secretes off spirits -- or their earthbound medium -- and might just help that medium produce spooky, otherworldly feats for awed witnesses.
Blithe Spirit, written in 1941, never intended to use modern media to tell the story of the Condomines, but then again, Noël Coward probably did not expect his play to be popular almost 80 years later. In this production, the play is revitalized for modern audiences, with the more haunted aspects of the script supported by projections. The most pronounced use of these effects is the appearance of ectoplasm during Madame Arcadi’s trances and the manifestation of ghostly entities.
Traditionally, every time a séance occurs, spirits speak to the group through bumping the table. Expanding on that idea, the room vibrates or jolts with each bump, concentrating at the end of the play, when the spirits violently shake the whole house, tearing it apart. They even go so far as to ripping down the archway that hangs over center stage, all of which are emphasised with a shuddering, convulsing effect.
The magical aspect of the show explodes at the finale; the details of the house are mutated at the climax of the spirits’ destructive episode. The magnolia plants painted on the wall grow, lashing over the walls, cracking them, and ‘pulling’ the set down around Charles. At the end of the destruction sequence, the spirits reverse all their devastation, with the vines sucking back in on themselves while the house is restored.