Blithe Spirit adds to theatre’s ghouls

(left to right) Jim Wringe, Heather Uden, Kisty Malloy in Blithe Spirit.'''Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (132373-6)
(left to right) Jim Wringe, Heather Uden, Kisty Malloy in Blithe Spirit.'''Picture: Ian Hargreaves (132373-6)
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It may seem like the spooky tales and terrifying costumes of Halloween are weeks away, but Groundlings Theatre is getting into the spine-tingling spirit early as it puts on Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit from tonight until Saturday, October 5.

Considered one of the most haunted buildings in the city, Groundlings Theatre has a resident 10 ghosts, according to artistic director Richard Stride.

‘We have adult and child ghosts apparently. A lot of them have been known for years. We’ve had a lot of ghost hunters come down and they say various things, but 10 names have kept cropping up,’ he explains.

‘We don’t tell them anything before they arrive, and then at the end of the evening we let them know what’s accurate.’

He adds: ‘Some of what they say is spot on.’

In the 1941 play Blithe Spirit, the socialite and novelist Charles Condomine invites the eccentric medium Madame Arcati to his house to conduct a séance, hoping to gather material for his next book.

But his scheme backfires when he is haunted by the ghost of his temperamental first wife, Elvira. It gets worse when she attempts to disrupt Charles’s marriage to his second wife, Ruth.

Richard says: ‘I remember seeing Blithe Spirit at drama school and thinking it was very funny. It was a little bit scary towards the end, so I thought what better than putting on a play about ghosts in a haunted building?’

And a haunting means there will be some unusual events throughout the play.

‘I play Charles and at one point I’m getting plates and vases thrown at me,’ explains Richard.

‘It runs for four nights, and each night we completely destroy the set.’

On Saturday, October 5, the theatre will also be holding its pantomime auditions for Aladdin, which runs from December 12-28.

Auditions are being held from 10am until 3pm for dancers older than six years old. From 11am until 2pm, actors from six to 16 can audition, and from 2pm until 5pm adults can also take part. Registration takes place an hour before auditions.

Tickets: £12 to £14 from the Groundlings Theatre, Portsea, on (023) 9273 7370 or go to groundlings.co.uk.