WWI has just ended, and we follow artist Daphne from Europe back to NYC, where she stays with Desiree, her friend from back home in St. Louis. Desiree changed her name from Agnes and adopted a broad New York accent and flapper girl persona, and instructs the unemployed Daphne that she needs to get a racket. Seances and Spiritualism have become popular, so Desiree decides that Daphne should pose as a medium, to which she reluctantly agrees. Much to her surprise, when the seance starts she becomes possessed by the spirits of the dead - conveniently she is an actual medium! Desiree and Daphne's first three clients are all wealthy society types who have recently lost someone, and receive actual comfort from hearing their loved ones words. Daphne falls for the wealthy but shell-shocked (what they used to call PTSD) Edward, a relationship that's complicated when her German artist friend Kurt shows up. If this sounds like a lot for 90 minutes, well, it is. They don't really delve into anything too deeply, and things are wrapped up neatly, but it's a nice framework on which to hang some lovely songs and great performances by the cast.
|the seance (Ben Heer, Abilene Olson, Serena Brook,|
Janet Hayes Trow, and Christine Wade, photo courtesy of Elision)
The cast performs in front of a black curtain drawn across the back of the performance space, sometimes with a few set pieces brought out, and also in Desiree's charming apartment set, revealed when the curtains are pulled aside. This makes for quick scene transitions. The cast is dressed in lovely period clothes (Lindsay Fitzgerald is credited as director and designer).
The new musical If the Spirit Moves continues through September 29 at Elision Playhouse. Click here for info and tickets.