Blithe spirit dating
Reviewers have increasingly dismissed it as too light and fluffy, with jokes that have long gone stale, while also excoriating its easy misogyny.
If there is no disputing the latter problem (though I still think the play very funny), what struck me last night were the similarities between it and the work of another celebrated British writer, a woman.
If you have had any thoughts along these lines yourself, please get in touch.
While seated in a café, she becomes aware of a solitary Italian man watching her and quickly leaves.
In the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Company's sturdy revival, the writer Charles Condomine (Ian Merrill Peakes), a stand-in for Coward, doesn't at first take any of this seriously: He's just trying to learn enough jargon and "tricks of the trade" to lend authenticity to his latest novel, about a homicidal medium.
And both eventually pin the blame for the strange goings-on on the servants, Edith in Ultimately, each concludes with the destruction of the property in which the story has occurred: the Condomine mansion in Kent, which falls down, and Manderley in Cornwall, which is razed to the ground by fire.
The connections seem so strong to me that I was surprised not to find anything about them online, neither on Noel Coward fan sites (of which there are many) nor in the usual scholarly journals.
In , Ruth, equally implausibly, has been told that Elvira perished “when she started to laugh helplessly at one of the BBC musical programmes and [had] a heart attack”.
Meanwhile, the authoritative and, on the surface, coldly effective Mrs Danvers is mirrored, in Coward’s play, by the bumbling country bumpkin, Edith, who nonetheless still manages to be the hidden hand that drives events – alongside Madame Arcati, of course, who also has a Danvers-like part and, in some ways, acts as an engine for the narrative.