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Blithe Spirit An Improbable Farce

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  3,079 ratings  ·  65 reviews
When novelist Charles Condomine invites a medium into his house in order to learn about the occult for his new book, the last thing he or his second wife dream is that the seance will bring back his first wife, Elvira, who wants Charles all to herself!

Things are further complicated by the fact that only Charles can see her, which results in some hilarious exchanges and mi
Audio CD, Classic Drama, 0 pages
Published July 1st 2002 by Naxos Audiobooks (first published 1941)
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I bought a copy of the play because I was to attend a performance in Toronto, at the Princess of Wales theatre. Reading the play was enjoyable but seeing it live, is even more entertaining. You gain an appreciation after reading then seeing a play, of the talent it takes for actors to make a character come to life. An excellent story and script are important, the perfect stage set, costumes and lighting enhance the performance however, it is the actors and their synergy that bring it all togethe ...more
I stage managed a production of this play. I remember it was a wonderful madcap comedy. I also remember the leads had a massive amount of lines to memorize. One time I was glad I didn't get cast.
Kyla Hanson
I watched this play, and it was hilarious! Like this play.
Critic Louis Kronenberger, citing this as a classic
comedy, notes that it concerns "one of the most
refreshing menages a trois in modern theater." Souffled
madness, he adds, a blend of the urbane and the
fantastic sustain the high-farce. The medium, Mme
Arcati, who accidentally "calls back" a dead wife,
is a riotous role. Last seen on Bwy, Angela Lansbury,
poor dear, tottered and couldnt recall lines. The two
wives were dreary. Only Rupert Everett added seltzer.
Here's a play that provides a very funny
BLITHE SPIRIT. (1941). Noel Coward. ****.
This was one of Coward’s more popular plays, though his famed wit came up a little short. I think that the success of the play depended more on his talent for setting and staging – along with casting his characters in unvarying roles. The story is about an event in the lives of Mr. & Mrs. Condomine, who are hosting a get-together for friends of theirs, Dr. & Mrs. Bradman. As entertainment for the evening, they have invited a Madame Arcati to the p
Overall very witty and amusing play. The plot is quirky but gripping and all the main characters are very three-dimensional. However, none of the characters are very likeable.
Setting: Country home – England?

Theme: humor; ghosts; infidelity; truth

Charles Condomine: two times husband… two times widower; novelist; invites a medium to study her, to incorporate her into a novel;

Ruth Condomine: current wife of 5 years; they appear to be content and well suited;

Elveria Condomine: wife of 5 years, died 7 years ago; when medium goes into trance, she shows up, and can only be seen by Charles;

Dr. George and Violet Bradman: friends, who come to partake in the séance;
Lee Kofman
I enjoyed the first two thirds of this play greatly, up until Ruth’s death – it was witty, imaginative and populated with lively characters. But then I was disappointed, because rather than developing the relationships within the budding ménage a troix, which is where the real freshness and challenge can potentially lay with all the psychological treasures embedded in such situations, Coward retreated to the easier plot development - the challenge of exorcising the ghosts of his both wives. This ...more
This was a fairly amusing play, with some quick and witty dialogue and interesting roles for women, but my god, these are some terrible human beings. It's not that I need my characters to all be moral, upstanding citizens--in fact, the imperfect ones are generally far more interesting--but this was just too much for me. Even adjusting for the latent misogyny (and casual racism) of the 1940s doesn't make this any more of a nostalgic look at the ups-and-downs of marriage. I know it's a farce, and ...more
When a séance brings back the ghost of his first wife, a man is caught between his current and former spouses. This play has some good moments and witty lines, but I didn’t love it. It kept getting close to being brilliant, but it never quite sustains the potential, and there’s an underlying sexism that put me off. Frankly, maybe the issue isn’t with the women the main character marries. Maybe the issue is with him. Quasi recommended.
Iliana Veltcheva
My first encounter with the man. Absolute, hilarious, utterly classy BLISS. Should anyone decide to listen to one of the many available radio dramas instead of just reading the play, the below is the most faithful adaptation (I own them all). ALSO, (!) it stars Joanna Lumley of Sapphire and Steel fame!
Jim B
I didn't find the lay very witty, especially the end. The role of Mada Areati was famously done by Margaret Rutherford -- who could have been very funny in it.

One truism struck me (not an exact quote): "Why are people shocked at the truth, but not at the deception?"
Much better than the last play I read for class, but the characters sucked more and more as the play went on. Still, I did love getting a ghost story this close to Halloween.
TW Brown
The story is wonderful and has been re-imagined many times over the years to greater and lesser degrees of success. It is a treat to sit down with a comedy of this sort and just enjoy its beauty.
This was probably the first play that i have read other than the ones that i have preformed. it was very interesting and i loved it very much! it was funny (it is a comedy), interesting, and well writen. i say that this book is one that can be read in one sitting and goes by quickly (but still gives the whole story). If it was a novella i would have loved it even more!
i recommend this book to those who like quick reads and those who need a book/play that needs to be done by tomorrow maybe??? any
There's nothing like the ghost of the former spouse to really mess with your happy romance. Coward is so very funny.
The audio version of Blithe Spirit is a live play with an audience. I recommend this over a straight reading.
Gena Lott
One of my favorites! So fun and full of great characters and lines!
Mike Jensen
It is piffle, of course, but well done piffle in top Coward form.
Laura Anderson
Always a pleasure to read this, a master class in dialogue.
All the characters are awful. But it was quite funny.
Jun 26, 2008 Kirstie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of theater
Recommended to Kirstie by: mom
Well, Noel Coward might not be as funny as Oscar Wilde but this is still an enjoyable read. It's a little unexpected and also a bit wicked (I have a hard time even typing that word but I think it's sort of apt.) It takes place, like Wilde's plays, it takes place within the aristocracy and deals in sometimes flightly ways with their interpersonal relationships. There are times you laugh out loud even though it probably would be a tragedy if written differently. At the same time, it's not as much ...more
Very quick listen, finished it in one morning.
An amusing comedy of marital strife in life and after death.
Somehow I find myself reading 1940s comedies. And they are fabulous! Blithe Spirit is a very funny play with lots of precious lines and a great premise and characters. I have not read plays since college classes in British and American drama (from Shakespeare to Look Back in Anger and Pinter and all of Eugene O'Neill and most of Tennesee Williams and Edward Albee) and find that they are great fun! There are no boring descriptions of nature, etc. and you have to pay v. close attention to the dial ...more
A very close second for my favourite, I found myself laughing out loud more than once as I read. In this story a writer accidentally brings back the ghost of his dead wife, much to the distaste of his current wife. You can't beat that. The work up to the ending is flawless, especially when you consider that Coward wrote this in five days in 1941 during the war. I wish I could see this performed.

Review originally posted on Imogen’s Typewriter.
Light hearted entertainment.
Elizabeth Hunter
The concept is amusing, but the characters are all pretty unlikeable and none of the pretty serious issues raised are explored in depth. Coward's wit is always amusing, but I don't think it's at its height here. I'd love to see this staged someday, but I don't think I'm the one to do it.

I also read his Long Island Sound, which I can't find on here, and it was almost the opposite of Blithe Spirit--the wit is wonderful, but the themes are slight. Also, too many characters for such a trifling plot.
It's been quite a while since I've read a play (and a fairly dated one at that). Still, it was an interesting read and a good example of Noel Coward's word play and plot development. It might be interesting on stage (and I pictured it that way as reading) but a little thin and credulous (incredulous?) for a reading pick. But it was on my list from the "No Obligation Book Club" readings, so I tackled it - and finished it quickly. Glad I just got it from the library, though, rather than purchasing ...more
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Upcoming portrayal of Elvira 1 1 Apr 21, 2015 09:57PM  
Goodreads Librari...: ISBN# 0413771970 3 157 Dec 12, 2012 10:21AM  
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Sir Noël Peirce Coward was an English actor, playwright and composer of popular music. Among his achievements, he received an Academy Certificate of Merit at the 1943 Academy Awards for "outstanding production achievement for In Which We Serve."
More about Noël Coward...
Three Plays: Blithe Spirit / Hay Fever / Private Lives Private Lives Hay Fever The Letters of Noel Coward Design for Living

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“It's discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.” 3149 likes
“Time is the reef upon which all our mystic ships are wrecked.” 11 likes
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