Coward's way out

Theatre Three's Blithe Spirit is droll overkill

Sharon Bunn as the flamboyant Madame Arcati loves to swirl about the stage in her long beads, curly shoulder length hair, and chaotically patterned muumuus, but she doesn't kick up the dust storm required of this token comic eccentric. Lisa Gabrielle-Greene is the red-dressed title spirit who steals in and out through the Condomine's window and drapes herself sensuously across furniture and nicely spooks the unbelievers. Unfortunately, her silvery abilities as a spiritual manifestation far outstrip any impression she makes as Charles' first love. Artie Olaisen as Charles struck me as the most consistently sympathetic of the cast, a man who is suddenly forced by psychic intervention to reconcile the very different roles he has played in different marriages.

Theatre Three fails to provide its audience with the justification that an umpteenth revival of Blithe Spirit demands. We know American theatergoers revel in the devastation of a bitterly turned English phrase, but Noel Coward never finds a significant enough target for contemporary audiences with this fluff. Considering the whole of Coward's iconoclastic canon, Theatre Three has missed a golden opportunity to remind us why he still matters.

Blithe Spirit runs through December 8. Call (214) 871-2933.

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