Noel Coward

Do old plays have a place in today's theatre?

Article: Do old plays have a place in today's theatre?

The 1945 film version with Margaret Rutherford, far left.
One would never think that “Blithe Spirit,” the 1941 play by Noel Coward could ever have been considered controversial. Theatrical productions almost always follow the script to the letter, setting the story in an overstuffed living room draped with tasseled shawls and lace doilies. It’s difficult to imagine that this sort of age-worn setting ever shocked censors. But after the play met with overwhelming success in London, setting box office records with nearly 2,000 consecutive performances, director David Lean (LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER RIVER KWAI) took on the film adaptation in 1945, but had to cut one “extremely risque” line for the U.S. release. During an argument with his wife, Ruth, Charles says, “If you’re trying to compile an inventory of my sex life, I feel it only fair to warn you that you’ve omitted several episodes. I shall consult my diary and give you a complete list after lunch.”