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Blithe Spirit An Improbable Farce

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  3,833 Ratings  ·  83 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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From BBC Radio 4 Extra:
When writer Charles Condomine invites a medium to hold a séance at his country house, he anticipates little more than some harmless fakery and a lot of good material for his new novel. Instead, he gets a ghostly visitation from his dead first wife, rather to the chagrin of his very much alive second one...

Noël Coward's classic comedy stars Roger Allam as Charles and Maggie Steed as Madame Arcati.
Adapted for radio by Bert Coules. Director Philip Franks. Producer Patrick Ray
Jan 09, 2015 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
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
May 12, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 15, 2014 Charles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: play
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.
Dec 16, 2014 Kyla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I watched this play, and it was hilarious! Like this play.
Jan 05, 2012 Sketchbook rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 by Noel Coward
Light comedy

When we learn that ghosts will be present in a story, we expect horror and gore.

Especially today, when the screens are assaulted by Supernatural, Twilight and other vampire, spirits and X men productions.

As may be obvious, I am not a fan of series or movies with weird creatures, be them werewolves, spider men or whatever.

There are a few exceptions.
I am thinking E.T. and Wolf, played by the supreme Jack Nicholson.

Blithe Spirit is not about aggressive, blood
Jul 23, 2011 Carrie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
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
Sep 26, 2014 Lauren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 03, 2016 Erika rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A writer invites a medium and clairvoyant to conduct a séance because he believes the experience can help his writing. He ends up being haunted by the ghost of his annoying and temperamental first wife. The writer is married, and the ghost tries to disrupt his marriage to his second wife. I like the craziness, nonsense, British accent, the overly repeated word "idiotic" and everybody's shrill voices.
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
Mar 30, 2014 Jim B rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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?"
Jun 17, 2016 Alisha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would love to see this staged.

I really love that the Ruth calls Charles out whenever he says something sexist. The playwright does a great job of portraying characters more as humans not defined solely by their gender.

The big reveal near the end I feel could have been explained a little more, maybe it works better staged. And I would have liked more integration of a certain character ...
Shawn Thrasher
Jun 30, 2016 Shawn Thrasher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I listened to an LA Theater Works production of this, checked out via streaming from a local library. All the martinis are dry as bones - just like the wit. Sophisticated frothyness at its very, very best.
Oct 19, 2014 Ligia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
T.W. Brown
Jan 23, 2015 T.W. Brown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 05, 2011 Elsa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 16, 2014 Kaethe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There's nothing like the ghost of the former spouse to really mess with your happy romance. Coward is so very funny.
Feb 17, 2014 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The audio version of Blithe Spirit is a live play with an audience. I recommend this over a straight reading.
Jun 11, 2016 Pinky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-16
Gatsby-esque house party with a psychic. What's not to love? A ton of quick, funny, intelligent dialogue.
Jul 31, 2016 Rob rated it it was amazing
Sharp, witty, enormously entertaining for fans of sparkling yet wicked dialog. Much in the flavor of P.G. Wodehouse.
Oct 14, 2016 Gaisce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: supernatural, play
Read it after seeing Angela Landsbury's performance. It is amazing when performed live.
Oct 06, 2016 E7boehm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
good a little timely but fun read if you want a good old comedy would be nice to see in performance
Gena Lott
Apr 14, 2015 Gena Lott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: play-script
One of my favorites! So fun and full of great characters and lines!
Mike Jensen
Jan 12, 2015 Mike Jensen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is piffle, of course, but well done piffle in top Coward form.
Mar 10, 2014 Alexandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
All the characters are awful. But it was quite funny.
Jun 26, 2008 Kirstie rated it really liked it  ·  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
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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...

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“It's discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.” 3364 likes
“Time is the reef upon which all our mystic ships are wrecked.” 14 likes
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