LANESBORO — Pity poor Scott Dixon.
The always steady Commonweal Theatre Companyactor finds himself at the center of a whirlwind of women in "Blithe Spirit," which opened over the weekend.
Dixon has to keep his calm while portraying Charles Condomine, a proper British gentleman who decides to host a seance at his home. First on the scene is his current wife, Ruth, played by Amanda Rafuse. Then comes Madame Arcati, the medium, played by Nancy Carruthers Huisenga. Finally, Charles' first wife, Elvira (Catherine Glynn), dead these seven years, makes an appearance — and refuses to go away.
That sets the scene for Noel Coward's comedy, which is directed for the Commonweal by Craig Johnson. The play is, as advertised, witty and clever, lighter than air and entertaining.
And the Commonweal's production benefits to a great degree from the performances of the women in the cast.
Huisenga's Madame Arcati is a wonderfully inspired creation, a somewhat daft woman who seems as surprised as anyone when her hocus-pocus actually works. The show belongs to Huisenga whenever she appears.
Rafuse, in turn, has a long stretch in the second act when she completely rules the stage, turning anger and frustration into hilarity. Glynn, meanwhile, with her throaty laugh and sultry ways, shows why Elvira has no trouble attracting and holding the attention of her former husband.
There are two more women in this play: Ana Hagadorn as Mrs. Bradman, and Diana Jurand as Edith, the maid. One of them, it turns out, has extra-special connections to the ghostly world. Also in the cast is John Basiulis as Dr. Bradman.
Coward wrote "Blithe Spirit" to provide an escape for fellow Londoners worn out, if not bombed out, by the Blitz during World War II. His own flat had been destroyed in the bombing. Despite that, the play makes no mention of the war — that presumably would have ruined what Coward wanted to achieve.
"I think it looks like nonsense in the clear light of the day," Charles says at one point in the play. Most ghost stories do. That doesn't make them any less entertaining, as the Commonweal proves with "Blithe Spirit."