Blithe Spirit An Improbable Farce In Three Acts Analysis
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RUTH crosses up stage to the R side of the door. R tITH ushers her in. My dear Madame Area ti! I'm afraid I'm rather late; but I had a sudden presentiment that I was going to have a puncture so I went back to fetch my pump. Perhaps you will on the way home. Greeting him Doctor Bradman-the man with the gentle hands! I'm delighted to see you looking so well. This is my wife. We are old friends-we meet coming out of shops. W ould you like a cocktail? Experience has taught m e to be very wary of concoctions. How delicious. I t was wonderful cycling through the woods this evening. I was deafened with bird song. It's been lovely all day. But the evening's the time-mark my words. RUTH sits on the right arm of the armchair.
Don' t you find it very tiring bicycling everywhere? O n the contrary, it stimulates me. I was getting far too sedentary in London. T ha t horrid little flat with dim lights! They had to be dim, you know; the clients expect it. I must say I find bicycling very exhausting. Stea dy rhythm, that's what counts. O nce you get the knack of it you need never look back. On you get and away you go. But the hills, Madame Arcati; pushing u p those awful hills. Just knack again. T his is the best d ry Martini I've had for years. Anybody can w rite books, but it takes an artist to make a d ry Mar tini that's dry enough. Are you writing anything nowad ays, Madame Arcati? Every morning regula r as clockwork, seven till one.
It's a children's book. I have to finish it by the end of O ctober to catch the Ch ristmas sales. It's mostly about very small anim als; the hero is a moss beetle. But I really hadn't the heart. Yes, through my control, of course. She sounded very irrita ble. I t's funny to thi nk of people in the spirit world being irritable, isn't it? I m ean, one ca n hardl y imagine it, can one? I expect it's dreadfully ignorant of me not to know- but who was Princess Pa lliatani? She was originally a Jewess from O dessa of q uite rem2lTkable beauty.
It was a n accep ted fact that people used to sta nd on the seats of railway stations to wa tch her w-hizz by. She was a keen traveller? In her younger days, yes. La ter on she m arried a Mr Clarke-in the Consular Service a nd settled down for a while. R UTlt. H ow did she become Princess P all iatani? That was yea rs later. M r C larke passed over and left her penniless with two strapping girls.
How unpleasant. So off she w ent, bag and baggage, to Vlad ivostock. W hat an extraordinary p lace to go! She had cousins there. Some years later she met old Palliatani, w ho was returning from a secret mis! He was immediately staggered by her beauty a nd very. From then on her life became really interesting. I should hard lv have described it as d ull before. She neither saw them nor spoke to them for twen ty-three years. H ow extraordinary. N ot at all. She was a lways very erratic emotional y. Thank you, Edith. Shall we--? No red meat, I hope? There's meat, but I don't think it will be very red. Would you rather have an egg or something? No, thank you. I t's just that I m ake it a rule never to eat red meat before I work.
It sometimes has an odd effect.. What sort of effect? O h, nothing of the least importance. If it isn't very red, it won' t matter m uch. Come along, then. They all move into the dining-room as the lights f ade on the scene Light Cue NO. Act I, Scene 2 J. All have coJFe-cup. V ery inbrecl, you know. Yes; she m ust h ave b een. My con trol was quite scared the other day when we were talking. I could hear it in h er voice. After all, she's only a child. D o you alwa ys have a child as a con trol? Yes, they're genera lly the best. Some mediums prefer Indians, of cou rse, b ut personally I've always foun d them unreliable. In what way u n reliable?
That genera ll y spoils everyth inr-; and wastes a grea t d eal of tim e. No, children are undoubtedly more satisfactory, particularly when they get to know you and und ersta nd your ways. Daphne has worked with me fo r years. A nd she still goes on being a child? I mean, she doesn't show signs of growing any older? Do you feel fu nny when you go off into a trance? In what way funny? T he word was a n unfortunate choice. I' m sure I'm ve ry sorry. It doesn't m atter in the least. Please d on't a pologize. When I was quite tiny. What an exciting day that w a s! I sh all never forg et it. O f cou rse the manifestation itse lf was quite sma ll an d of very short d uration, but, for a child of my tend er yea rs, it was mos t gratifying.
Your m other must have been so pleased. Can you foretell the future? Cer tainly not. I disapprove offortune tellers most strongly. Too much guesswork and fake mixed up with it, even when the gift is genuine. And it only very occasionally is. You can 't count on it. W hy not? Time a gain. Time is the reef upon which all ou r frail mys tic ships are wrecked. You mean because it has never yet been proved that the past and the present and the future are not one a nd the same thing. I long ago came to the conclusion tha t nothing has ever been d efinitely proved about anything. H ow very wise. E DITH comes in with a fray of drinks. She puts the tray down on the C table by Ruth. R UTH moves a coffee-cup and a vase to make roomf er it.
You ca n clear the table in the morning. And we don' t wa n t to be disturbed for the next hour or so for any reason whatsoever. Is th a t clear? And if an yone should telephone, just say we are out and take a m essage. U nless it's an urgent call for George. Unless it's an urgent call for D octor Bradman. Yes' m. T here's n ot li! N o, I don't think so. I'm terribly excited. Please don't be. II makes everything m uch, m uch more diffic ult. Tluy are smoking cigars. Who knows? It m a y be receding! How very true. I hope you feel in the m ood, Madame Arcati. It isn' t a question of m ood. It's a question of conce n tr a tion. You must forgi ve us being imp a tien t.
We ca n perfectly easily w a it th ough, if you're not q uite ready to sta r t. Nonsense, my dear, I'm a bsolu tel y ready. She rises He igho t heigho, to work we go! Is there any thing you'd like us to do? Yes- --hold hands or a nything? All th at will come later. I congratu la te you. The mousse wasn 't quite right. It looked a bit hysterical, but it ta sted delicious. That :uckoo is very angry. I beg your p a rclon? I said that cuckoo is very angry. L isten. How can you tell? N o moon; tha t's as well, I think. T herets mist rising from the marshes.
A thought strikes her. There's no need for me to ligh t my b icycle lamp, is there? I mean, nobody is likely to fall over it? No, we're not expecting anybody else. Good night, you foolish bird. She closes the windows You h ave a table? We though t that one would do. DR BR. Change over. Then she walks about the room- twisting and untwisting her hands This is a m oment I always hate. Are you nervous? When I was a girl I always used to be sick. H ow fo rtuna te that you grew ou t of it. I know I could never travel in a train with any degree of safety until I was fourteen.
W hat shall he have but brown bread and b utter? W ho's Daphne? D aphne is M adame Arcati's control. She's a little girl. Oh, I see-yes, of course. How old is she? Rising seven when she died. And when was that? February the sixth, eigh teen eighty-four. Poor little thing. She must be a bit long in the too th by now, I should think. She stops walking and addresses Dr Bradman across the stage You should think, Doc tor Bradman, but I fear you d on't; at least, not profoundly enough. Do be quiet, George. You'll put Mada me Arcati off. Don't worry, my dear, I am q uite used to sceptics.
They generally turn out to be the m ost vulnerable and receptive in the long run. Please forgive me, M adame Arcati. I can assure you I am most deeply interested. I t is of no conseq uence. Will you all sit round the table, please, and place your hands downwa rds on it? What about the lights? All in good time, Mr Condomine. Sit down, please. The fou r of them sit down at each side of the seance table. ES on Ruth's R. She is whistling a little tune. T hen she sings The fingers should be touching I presume that that is the gramophone, Mr Condomine?
Would you like me to start it? It's an electric onc. Please stay where you a re. I can manage. She moves to the gramophone L and picks up the record album f rom the rack below it Now let me see--what have we here? Brahms-oh dear me, no; Rachmaninoff-too florid. Where is the dance music? They're the loose ones on the left. I see. I'm afraid they're none of them very new. D aphne is really more attached to I rving Berlin than anybody else. She likes a tune she can hum. Ah, here's one-'Always'. Do sit down, Charles. W hat is the m atter? The light switch is by the door? Yes, all except the small one on the d esk, and the gramophone. Charles, do keep still. Fingers touching, George. R emember wha t Madame Arcati said.
N ow there are one or two things that I should like to explain; so will you a ll listen a ttentively? Of coursc. Presently, when the music begins, I am going to switch out the lights. In due course I shall draw up this dear little stool and join you at the taLl e. I sh a ll place myself between you a nd your wife, Mr Condomine, and rest my hands lightly upon yours. I must ask you not to address me or move or do anything in the least distracting.
Is that quite, quite clear? Of course, I cannot guaran tee that anything will happu1 at all. Daphne may be unavailable. She had a head cold very recently, and was rather under the weather, poor child. O n the other h a nd , a great many things might occur. One of you m ight h a ve an emanation, fo r instance; or we might contact a poltergeist, w hich would be extremely destructive a nd noisy. RUTH anxiously In what way destru ctive? T hey throw things, you know. R lITH. N o, I did n' t know. But we must cross that bridge when we come to it, mustn't we? Certa inly-by all means. Fortunately an Elemental at this time of the year is most u nlikely. What do E lementals do? Oh, m y dear, one can never tell. They're dreadfully un pred ictable.
U sually they take the for m of a very cold wind. I don't th ink I shall like that. Occasionally reaching alm ost hurricane velocity. You d on't think it would be a good idea to take the more breakable ornamen ts off the man telpiece before we start? I assure you I have my own methods of dealing with Elemen tals. I'm so glad. Now, then; are you ready to empty your mi nds? Do you m ean we' re to try to think of nothing? Absolutely nothing , Doctor Bra d m an. That's reaUy the best way. I'll do m y damnedest. Good work! She gOtS to the gramophone, puts on the record of 'Alwcrys', and begins to walk about tlu room; occasional!. Q uiet -please! The gramoplwl,e record comes to an end. T here is dead siLence Is there anyone there? A long pause.. AnoLher Long pause N ow then Is that you , Daph ne?
The table gives a louder bump Is your cold better, dear? The tab le gives two loud bumps, very quickly O h, I'm so sorry. Are you doing anything fo r it? The table bumps severaL times I'm a fraid she's rather frelful. The re is a silence Is there a nyone there who wishes to speak to anyone here? After a pause the table gives one bump Ah! Now we're get ting somewhere No, D aphne, don 't d o that, dea r, you're h ur ting me D ap hne, dear, please Oh, oh, oh! You say there is someone there who wishes to speak to someone here? One bump Is it me? Two sharp bumps Is it D oc tor Brao man?
Tw o bumps Is it M rs Bradm an? Two bumps Is it Mrs Condomill c? Is it M r Condom ine? ThfTe is dead silence for a mommt, and then a very loud single bump There's someone who wishes to speak to you , Mr Condomine. Tell them to leave a message. I really must ask you not to be flippant, Mr Condomine. Charles, how ca n you be so idio tic? I'm sorry ; it sli pped ou t. Do you kn ow a nybod y who has passed over recently? Not recently, excep t my cousin in th e Civil Service, and he wou ld n' t be likel y to want to communicate wich m e. T he table bumps violen tly several times I' rn afraid we've drawn a blank. Can't you think of anyone else? Rack your bra ins. She died on Whit-Monday. W e had very little in common. RUT H. It's worth trying, a nyhow.
Are you old Mrs Plummett? The table remains still RUTH. She was very deaf. Perhaps you'd better shout. Nothing happens There's nobody there at all. H ow disappointing; just as we were ge tting on so nicely. Violet, be quiet. Excuse me a moment while I start the gramophone again. Don't be absurd. Have it your own way. That would be Daphne. She ought to have had her adenoids ou t. Good God! K eep still, Charles. It's trying to get away. I can' t hold it. Press d own hard.
The table f alls oveT with a cTash T here now! Ought we to pick it u p or leave it where it is? How the hell do I know? There's no need to snap at me. W ho said that? Who said what? Somebody said 'Leave it where it is. Nonsense, dear. I hea rd it distinctly. Well, nobody else did-did they? I never heard a sound. It was you, Ruth. You' re playing tricks. I'm not doing anything of the sort. I haven't uttered. RUTH irritably Wha t is the matter with you? You must have heard that. One of you must have heard that! Hea rd what? You mean to sit there solemnly a nd tell me that you none of you heard anything at a ll? I certainly d idn't.
Neither did I. I should love to hear something. It's you who are playing the tricks, Cha rles. You're acting to try to frighten us. I swear I'm not. I can't bear this for another m inu te. He rises violently Get up, everybody- the entertainment's over. Light Cue N O. Act I, Scene 2 He rushes across the room and switches on the li. T hen he moves to the fireplace. All the others rise. Oh, Cha rles, how tiresome of you. Never again-that's alII can say. N ever, never again as long as I live. What on earth's the matter with you?
Nothing'S the matter with m e. I'm j ust sick of the whole business, that's all. Did you hear any thin g that we did n' t hear really? I know you were. IRs BR. Oh dear-look at Madame Arcati! She is obviously quite unconscious RUTH. Bring her rou nd-bring her round as soon as possible. Bu t she might stay like that for h o u rs. I t's d a ngerous to leave her like that. Really, Charles, you are behaving m ost p eculiarly.
W ake up! It's t ime to go h ome! Here-go easy, old m an! Get some brand y-give her some b randy, lift her into the chair- help me, Bradman! RUTH goes to the drinks table L and pours out some brandy. L ittle Tommy T ucker, Madame A rcati! RUTH brings the brandy to above the armchair. Here's the brandy. S he's com ing roun d. Be careful, Charles, you're spilling it all down her dress. RUTH solicitously Are you all right? Certa inly I am. Never felt better in my life. So that's the funny taste in my mouth. Well, really! Fancy allowing them to give me brandy, Doctor Bradman.
You ought to have known better-brandy on top of a trance might have been catastrophic. T ake it away, please. I proba bly shan't sleep a wink ton igh t as it is. I know I shan' t. Why on ea rth not? CH ft. T he whole experience h as unhinged me. Was it satisfactory? Somet hing happened all righ t, I can feel it -- She rises, crosses to the fi replace, above Charles, and sniffs 0 poltergeist, at any rate - that's a good thing. Any apparitions? Not a thing. I'm not quite sure what it is, but I don' t think so. V ery curious. I feel as though something tremendous has taken place. Charles pretended he heard a voice in order to frighten us.
A very poor one, if I may say so She goes ro und abo ve the sofa to RC Nevertheless, I am prepared to swear that there is someone else psyc hic in this room apart fro m myself. I don't see how there can be rea lly, Mada m e Arca ti. However, we are bound to find out within a day or two. If any manifes tation should occur or you hear any unexpected noises, you migh t let me know a t once. Of course we will.
We'll tele phone im mediately. I think I really must be on m y way now. Wouldn't you like anything before you go? I have some O valtine all ready in a saucepan at home ; it only needs hotti ng up. Would n't you like to leave your bicycle here and let us d rive you? I honestly do think you should, M adame Arcati. Nonsense, my dear, I'm as fit as a fiddle. Good night, Mrs Condomine. It was awfully sweet of you to take so much trouble. I'm so sorry so little occurred. It's that cold of Daphne's, I expect. You know what children are when they have.
We must try again some other evemng. That would be lovely. It was thrilling, it really was. I felt the table absolutely shaking under my hands. Good nigh t, D octor. Congratulations, Madame Arcati. I am fully aware of the irony in your voice, Doctor Bradman. A great chum of mine is an expert. I should like her to look you over. I'm sure I should be charmed. Good night, everyone. Next time we must really put our backs into it! RUTH sinks down into the sofa, laughing helplessly. I can t help it. I really can't. I've been holding this in for ages. She certainly put you in your place, George, and serve you right.
She's raving mad, of course; m ad as a hatter. But do you really think she believes? Of course not. The whole thing's a put-up job. I must say. I should think that she's probably half convinced herself by now. The trance was genuine enough; but that, of course, is easily accounted for. Yes- a fo rm of hys teria, I should imagine. He might have got a great deal more if he hadn't spoiled everything by showing off I'm really very cross with him.
Light Cue. She is channingly dressed in a sort of negligee. Everything about her is grey; hair, skin, dress, hands, so we must accept the fac t that she is not quite of this world. She regards them with interest, a slight smile on her fa ce I suddenly felt a draught- there must be a window open. E lemen tals. RUTH also laughing again O h no, it could n't be. S he distinctly said that it was the wrong time of the year for Elementa ls. Well, the old girl's gone pedalling off down the d rive at the hell of a speed. We had a bit of trouble ligh ti ng her lamp. I've got a theory abou t her, you know.
I believe she is completely sincere. H ow could she be? Wouldn't it be possible, Doctor? It might be. As I was explaining to your wife just now, there are certain ty pes of hysterical subjec ts George, dear, it's getting terribly la te, we rea lly must go home. You have to get u p so early in th e morning. You see? You kn0w I'm right, d a rling- it's past eleven. You must have a drink before you go. N o, really, thank you. Viole t's quite righ t, I'm afraid. I have got to get up a bomina bly early tomorrow. I have a patient being operated on in Canterbury. AN goes to Ruth, below the sofa. It has been a thrilling evening. I shall never forget it. It was sweet of you to include us. Good night, M rs Condomine. T hank you so much.
You're sure about the d rink? Quite sure, thanks. We'll let you know if we find any poltergeists whirling about. I should never forgive you if you didn't. Come along, darling. Well, darling? Absently Well? Would you say the evening had been profitable? Yes- I suppose so. I must say it was extremely funn y at moments. Yes- it certainly was. What's the ma tter? The mat ter? You seem old , somehow. Do you feel qui te well? I think I 'll have a drink. Do you want one? No, thank you, dear. Come over by the fire. I don't think I'll make any n otes tonight.
I'll start fresh in the morning. He sees Elvira and drops the glass on the floor My God! That was very clumsy, Charles dear. Of course it was. It's all very confusing. Look at me. Don't you see? See what? RUTH staring at him incredulously Elvira!! Elvira dear, this is Ruth. R uth, this is Elvira. RUTH tries to take his aTm. Do you mean to say you can't see her? Listen, Charles-you j ust sit down quietly by the fi re and I'll mix you another drink.
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