CENTERVILLE — Р It’s awkward when you’re husband’s ex comes to visit, especially if she’s dead.
Luckily, it’s also highly entertaining.
CenterPoint Legacy Theatre’s production of “Blithe Spirit,” running now through March 9 at the theater’s Leishman Performance Hall, delivers laughs with both the driest sarcasm and the silliest sight gags. The small but uniformly excellent cast does a admirable job delivering even Noel Coward’s most complicated lines.
They also deftly handle the play’s innumberable plot twists, particularly in the last half.
“Blithe Spirit” follows a couple who invites a psychic into their home as part of the research for the husband’s book. After the psychic accidentally invites the husband’s deceased former wife into the house, things start to get complicated. If you don’t know the story, it’s impossible to predict where things end up.
With the opening night cast, most of the fun comes in getting there. The show is anchored by Brighton Sloan and Todd Wente, playing the couple whose pleasant life is interrupted by the spirit world. As the long-suffering second wife, Sloan is wonderfully dry and sarcastic. Her character is the closest thing the show has to a voice of reason, and Sloan could make me chuckle simply by rolling her eyes.
Wente supplies a great deal of the show’s emotional subtext, able to communicate a great deal of feeling with just the softness of his voice. At the same time, he modulates his performance carefully enough that the character’s later surprises make perfect sense.
As Madame Arcati, the psychic who starts the whole mess, Missy Riffle proves once again how great a character actor she is. She’s responsible for most of the play’s slapstick comedy, including an inspired little dance routine that helps her communicate with the spirits, and Riffle milks each moment for all it’s worth. She throws herself even into the most absurd acts with absolute, hilarious dedication.
Katie Paul, as the dearly departed first wife, is arch and engaging enough to live up to her character’s reputation. Kristina Boler, playing the minor but important character of the housemaid, also makes the most of her few scenes. She also deserves points for pulling off the hardest accent in the play.
Tickets are available by calling 801-298-1302 or at centerpointtheatre.org.