Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
Elvira hasn't the ghost of a chance with Charles
Sir Noel Coward was forty when he wrote Blithe Spirit. He was one of the British Intelligentsia recruited into the war effort to build morale.
Sir Noel Coward 1899 - 1973 (Photograph in the Public Domain)
He had been extremely busy with war work - This Happy Breed, In Which We Serve and a gruelling round of tours for troops and overseas. He wrote Blithe Spirit as a complete break from the war - it's a light, frothy confection of comedy with no reference to the war at all but that just happens to focus on death and the afterlife.
Sir Noel was at the very height of his considerable powers and Blithe Spirit is widely regarded as his very best play.
Margaret Rutherford, one of the great Arcatis (Photograph in the Public Domain)
The play was first performed in 1941 with Margaret Rutherford as as Madame Acarti and was a huge and immediate success, followed almost immediately by a film of the same name, with Margaret Rutherford repeating her role against Rex Harrison as Charles and Kay Hammond, also reprising her stage role.
The plot line is deceptively simple. Charles Condomine is a successful author who is researching his next novel which is about the occult. He engages the help of scatty medium, Madame Acarti (one of the great roles for women on stage) who raises the ghost of Charles' first wife Elvira. Elvira wants Charles still and sets a trap to kill him so he can join her in the afterlife ... but it all goes wrong.
Roz Hammond as Madame Acarti (Photograph by Robert Frith)
Directed by Jeffrey Jay Fowler and starring Adam Booth, Adriane Daff, and the delectable Roz Hammond as Madame Acarti, Blithe Spirit, possibly one of the very first truly 'black' comedies, runs from July the 18th to August 9th at the Heath Ledger Theatre. Tickets cost between $32.50 and $82.50 and are available from the Ticketek website or by ringing 1300 795 012.