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Mad Broads and Englishmen

Swift Creek's "Blithe Spirit" does anything but bomb.

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Swift Creek's production of "Blithe Spirit" perfectly captures Noël Coward's dry, sophisticated tone. From left, Jacqueline Jones, Richard Koch, Amy Berlin, Vivki McLeod and John Stork Maddox. - ROBYN O'NEILL
  • Robyn O'neill
  • Swift Creek's production of "Blithe Spirit" perfectly captures Noël Coward's dry, sophisticated tone. From left, Jacqueline Jones, Richard Koch, Amy Berlin, Vivki McLeod and John Stork Maddox.

After Nazis bomb your apartment and office during the Blitz, what's the proper way to respond?

For British playwright, composer and actor Noël Coward it was to keep a stiff upper lip and craft the hit comedy "Blithe Spirit" in five days flat.

After novelist Charles stages a séance in his living room with his wife, a local medium and friends, the ghost of his former wife, Elvira, returns from the past to wreak havoc on his marital bliss. Current wife Ruth is annoyed by the intrusion of Charles' old flame, and Elvira doesn't necessarily have the most angelic intentions in mind.

If an award were given for best performance as Brits, Richard Koch and Vicki McLeod would win for their portrayals of Charles and Ruth. With every facial expression and intonation they perfectly imitate across-the-pond neighbors, and are especially funny when arguing with each other.

Rebecca Anne Muhleman plays the devilish Elvira with gusto, reveling in her character's otherworldly nature. Amy Berlin is appropriately eccentric as the medium Madame Arcati, and Laurel Maughan is delightfully daft as maid Edith. John Storck Maddox and Jacqueline Jones round out the cast as the amusing Dr. and Mrs. Bradman.

The tone and humor are pitch-perfect under Tom Width's direction, and his special effects near the play's end are worth the price of admission. Adding to the splendid spectacle are Joe Doran's lighting and Paul Deiss' sound design. Maura Lynch Cravey's costumes fit the time and the characters completely, especially Ruth's sensible dresses and celestial Elvira's clingy slip. Width's set suits the location and period but could do without the ugly Holiday Inn sofa.

If you're a fan of dry comedy, it's difficult to do much better than this. Swift Creek can chalk up another success in its long track record of old-school theater delights. S

"Blithe Spirit" plays at Swift Creek Mill Theatre, 17401 Jefferson Davis Highway, through July 21. Call 748-5203 or go to swiftcreekmill.com for tickets.

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