Saturday, March 26, 2023—
“The Canterville Ghost” is a short story by Oscar Wilde and was originally published on March 2nd, 1887. And this past weekend, the R.C. Players put on their own production of the humorous tale at East Quad’s Keene Theater. Sophomore Isabelle Zeaske wrote and directed the production and she did a fantastic job at it! In her director’s note, she says this about the original story: “The first of the two parts is a slapstick, and queercoded satire of both Americans and Brits” and she “wanted to create a new adaptation that honors the first chapter . . . but keeps the themes of life, love connection, and closetedness” from the latter part.
Before the show began, Lord Canterville (Maddie Nolen) and The Canterville Ghost (Will McClelland) roamed the isles and entertained the audience with in-character banter. They treated the whole theater as the Canterville Chase, delightfully immersing the audience into the story’s world.
Senior Will McClelland stole the show as the Canterville Ghost from the moment he stepped on stage. His voice had an impressive range, one moment portraying himself as evil and haunting, and the next as meek and pathetic. My personal favorite moment of his was when he took advice from the audience on how he should haunt the mansion’s new American residents. He ended up scooting across the floor like a worm, taking the word from a viewer to keep his “but up.”
Another stand-out character was Washington Otis (senior Adrien Beyer), the oldest son of the American family that just moved in. His jealousy of his sister’s mysterious manly suitor was performed dramatically through anguished squeals and head motions that had the audience laughing heartily in response.
Speaking of the sister, Virginia Otis (junior Dax Sheedlo) held the heart of the story. She went through hoops and hoops to keep from her family her reluctance toward getting married, even employing help from the Canterville Ghost himself. The interactions between the two simultaneously brought much warmth and comedy to the story. My favorite moment between the two of them was when Virginia claimed that she just hasn’t “found any man that she likes” and the Ghost looks toward the audience with a face that knows exactly what her romance problem is, dramatically mouthing “Oh—that’s what it is.”
Other than the actors, I very much appreciated the costumes: from pristine suits to large and flowy dresses. They made the play feel that much more real.
This was the last production for the R.C. Players for the semester, so I’m glad that they went out with a bang. I highly encourage everyone to keep an eye out during the coming semesters for more of their comedic and touching productions.
You can learn more about them through their Instagram: @rc_players.
Header image from @cantervillercp on Instagram.