On Saturday, I got to see a legend. I took my daughter, her BFF, and BFF's mom into San Francisco to see Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit" at the Golden Gate Theatre. The legend wasn't the play. It was Angela Lansbury as Madame Arcati.
It. Was. Amazing.
It's not the first time I've seen the play. My college did it when I was a freshman, when I was still too chicken to try out for anything. It's one of those comedies that has survived its times. Too often, comedies are very topical and rely too heavily on contemporary references to have the same impact once those references are memories or forgotten. "Blithe Spirit" isn't like that. It's situational comedy that gets its laughs through witticism and cleverness, with just enough farcical elements thrown in to break it up.
This was a gorgeous production, from the sets to the sound to the performances. Charles Edwards played the lead. For those who watch "Downton Abbey," he was Edith's married lover, the one who fathered her daughter. Excellent casting. He's the pin that holds it all together, because although Angela Lansbury got top billing, the play is really about Edwards getting haunted by his dead wife, while he's living with his current wife.
But that doesn't stop Lansbury from stealing her scenes. She's the medium that puts the whole thing into motion, and it's a very physically demanding role. Lansbury didn't miss a beat, and what's even more astounding, is the fact that she's 89. Let me repeat that. She's 89. And we saw a matinee. She turned around and did another performance three hours after we saw her. Then again on Sunday.
She's 89, people. She puts a lot of us to shame.
Unsurprisingly, she wasn't doing signings at the stage door, but I did buy a T-shirt. Knowing me and my inability to throw any T-shirt away, I'll still be wearing it in twenty years. And every time I do, it'll be a reminder of this remarkable performance. Maybe I can use some of that inspiration to keep me going, too.