Saw Blithe Spirit last night at the Shubert. Rupert Everett, Jayne Atkinson and Angela Lansbury do a great job and have a lot of fun. It’s a great comedy. Noel Coward really found a gem of timeless comedy in the situation “two people and one ghost in a room, only one person can see and hear the ghost”. He gave the cast and director, Michael Blakemore, a great opportunity, and they got all the laughs and double entendres they could out of that one.
Coward also has some terrific, witty, observations on relationships, marriage, jealousy, etc. All very fun and fast paced.
You can’t help but leave, though, with the thought that you just laughed and went along with the expressions of a confirmed misogynist. The play ends, after all, with the lead having just managed to shake off the nagging, bickering ghosts of his first and second wives (the ghost of the first having killed the living 2nd – it’s complicated, it’s comedy) and happily leaving his house and all memories of marriage behind, going off somewhere where he will never be bothered again by these two women, and, one well imagines, any other women, ever.
Makes you wonder why so many women like the old revival theater, when so many of its plays are written by gay men who, when you get past the wit, are not saying such nice things about women.
I wonder also, if there were no taboos, would theater exist at all?
Blithe Spirit’s taboo is “I’m not allowed to say this, but I’m really gay and I just married you because that’s what everybody does these days.”
The American Plan’s taboo was a variation on this: ”I’m gay but maybe I can be married so I can still feel normal.” That play (written in the late 80s/early 90s, set in the 1950s, didn’t think such an arrangement was necessary or possible anymore.
Reason’s To be Pretty: ”We’re dating but I’m not that into you, it’s just very pleasant.” Surprise, a taboo not involving homosexuality makes it into the theatre. This situation is apparently very offensive to that half of the couple that is truly in love.
Why Torture Is Wrong, And The People Who Love Them: going to see that this week, looking forward to finding out what taboo the play is based on. hmm, maybe that torture really is justifiable?