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Blithe Spirit 

When: Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. and Thu., Aug. 19, 8 p.m. Continues through Aug. 21 2010
Price: $15 general; students and seniors $12

There's good reason for calling Elvira Condomine a "blithe spirit." She died while cackling to a BBC comedy show, got swept off to a supernatural world where everyone wore gauzy frocks and played board games all day, and eventually returned to the terrestrial world for one last spat with her crime novelist husband. Such is the plot of Blithe Spirit, a 1941 comedy of manners by Noël Coward. Structured, like all of Coward's plays, as a series of chance encounters and Freudian slips, it tells the story of a man who stupidly calls back his dead wife's ghost -- only to ruin his current marriage. Stanley Spenger stars as Charles Condomine, the protagonist in a new Actors Ensemble of Berkeley staging. Directed by Hector Correa, it features a cast of sharp, commanding actors. Erin J. Hoffman plays the churlish Elvira, who dukes it out with Condomine's second wife, Ruth (Shannon VeonKase). Careful set design and a 1940s jazz ballad soundtrack lend authenticity to the production. Through August 21 at Live Oak Theatre (1301 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley). $12-$15.

— Rachel Swan


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