Fleeting: Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward

Someone once told me:

If someone claims to have been in love multiple times, they don’t really know what love is

The irony in this statement is that I remember once upon a time when a small group of us were talking about whether we have ever been in love before. And we went around the group… a few of the people have been in love multiple times or believes that they were in love at the moment. But me? I had to think, I grew to love one guy… I liked others… I was in love with the idea of being in love with another guy… but being in love with someone? Nope, hasn’t happened… at least not the full fledged thereof…

There are some people I know that are with someone because it is comfortable and eventually they have grown to love one another… a kind of jaded view on the concept of love but when you’ve been burned over and over again could you blame them? There are others that jump from person to person to person because chances are deep down the idea an concept of being alone frightens them… even though to every one else they appear to be guy or girl crazy…

I am not saying that I am any better… but speaking as someone that has been alone (voluntarily) for close to seven years straight and makes a conscious effort to be alone after a falling out of a relationship as opposed to jumping straight to the next person waiting in the wings… well I would like to think I have a better feel of the kind of person that I am.

Which is kind of odd that my latest role was the part of Elvira in Munroe Park Theatre Guild’s production of Blithe Spirit. Early in the process the director sat down with myself and a couple of other actors and went into more detail as to how these particular characters are acting and reacting in particular situations.

Their insecurities, their flaws, why they have no reason to be married let alone be with anyone in particular. In many ways I relate to Elvira in how she lived… being married for the sake of being married because that was the expectation placed upon women in society at the time. The concept of growing older alone and a spinster or bachelor was looked down upon in society and I could relate to that.

In Elvira’s case, she also felt alone in her marriage and as thus started to welcome overtures from others that were more than willing to show her affection and devotion that she was not able to gain from her husband. So she started flirting and going off on excursions with other men, one of which she caught her death of cold and passed away.

So why would she want to bring her husband into the afterlife with her? Because she finally realized that she loved him? That she missed him? Or perhaps that she is still afraid of being alone? Or all of the above? Probably all of the above.

As the director puts it:

She had no business of being married

Which is true to be sure… but the concept of being married because that is what is expected of you does in some ways harken back to the days of where marriage was the ideal because women would be better protected. Which makes sense as well.

If it was me in Elvira shoes… the motivation would be that I didn’t want to spend the afterlife alone when the one thing I want is still alive and kicking… and then it hit me… Elvira may have had a streak of wanting what she can’t get, and once she gets what she wants she appears to get bored and move on to the next shiny thing. She is young and unfocused after all.

Now that was something I could relate to in some degree. The concept of wanting someone that one cannot have until you’ve obtained it… now what?

I do find it rather interesting that the director chose to have a story that kind of scoffs on the institution of marriage the weekend after Valentine’s Day… which is not a bad thing, it is just that strange sense of timing. Granted if Blithe Spirit were not to go up then another scoffing at the institution of love and marriage related play would have gone through… but that is a different story for a different time.

One thing I did notice about me during the process whilst playing Elvira is how – as each rehearsal and show progressed – there was a moment when everything just snapped into place and instead of me remembering lines acting what I believe Elvira was suppose to be acting… it became me – as in the lines were my own and it was the matter of feeling more like “how would I react if it were me in that situation”. It was an odd sense that I became Elvira or Elvira became me, however you want to look at it. The words were my own and I had forgotten that there was a stage, or the audience, or even that we were acting… it was in that particular moment that everything disappeared and it was like living (or reliving) everything as if it all were.

Then again, because of my nature to flirt incessantly off-stage as an attempt to “stay in character” perhaps that is what happened. It didn’t feel over the top or forced… it felt much more natural than perhaps I have any right to believe.

Odd… very very odd… But I digress.

Elvira is someone that most anyone could relate to… marrying for all the wrong reasons, finding herself bored and finding something better to play with. Well, what can one do? In any case… this is one role that I was honored to have had the pleasure of becoming only to realize just how much we had in common, and I cannot decide if that is a good or bad thing.

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