For several summers, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company has offered shows of witty, classical fluff when most companies are on a seasonal break. This month Noel Coward's comedic ghost story 'Blithe Spirit' fills the bill nicely, featuring six CSC veteran performers as well as Annie Fitzpatrick, who provides a great dollop of loony frosting on a very tasty summer dessert.
The stormy plot is a fevered sex-duel with class warfare overtones between Jean, an ambitious, wily, vulgar but capable servant (Matthew Lewis Johnson), and the spoiled, self-focused daughter (Hayley Clark) of Jean's titled employer. Is it over-simplifying to locate seeds of a wayward mistress in the behavior of a willful wife?
Director Matt Johnson has set the battle of the sexes in a "mythical Hollywood studio" of the 1930s. What often goes wrong with adaptations is that they're not fully applied, but Johnson's update works flawlessly and completely, adding layers of humor for theatergoers who might not routinely warm to a play by Shakespeare.