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Despite witty script 'Blithe' births dull performance

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a pretty good clip, and in OCTC's production, it does for the most part. Prigs might say something about the English accents, but the actors get a pass without an excessive amount of leeway. By the end, May sounds remarkably like Cary Grant, not that anything is wrong with that.

Mackie's direction, except for a point or two, generally seems about right, never obtrusive or fussy. But inexplicably, Mackie does not stage the play's ending as Coward wrote it, depriving the audience of a famous sight gag, and Elvira and Ruth of one last shot at Charles.

It is hard to say, therefore, why this production is so numbingly dull. OCTC shows often have the look of a theater company on a budget, as this one does. More authentic costumes and a more elaborate set design might alleviate deficiencies, but only to a certain point.

Coward has always had his detractors. Critic George Jean Nathan wrote, "This vaudeville humor Mr. Coward cleverly brings the less humorously penetrating to accept as wit by removing its baggy pants and red undershirt and dressing it up in drawing-room style. But it remains vaudeville humor just the same." Perhaps today, Coward should be left to specialists.

Blithe Spirit stages at 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday through Oct. 11 presented by the Oklahoma City Theatre Company at Freede Little Theatre inside the Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N. Walker.

"?Larry Laneer

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