The Patriot Playmakers at Independence High School recently proudly presented their own rendition of a 1966 play “The Rimers of Eldritch” by Landford Wilson.
The play is set in the mid-20th century in the town of Eldritch, Missouri, a once thriving coal mining community that is on the decline. The story line focused on the murder of an aging local hermit Skelly Manor by a woman named Nelly Windrod who mistakenly thought he was committing rape when he was actually trying to prevent one from happening.
The play began in darkness with two female voices gossiping about Cora Groves, who has taken a younger man as her lover. As Martha and Wilma speak, a faint light begins to shine on a middle aged woman Nelly Windrod with her hand raised as if she was taking an oath on the Bible in a court of law. As the gossip continues the lights are turned on full to signify the morning sun has risen with Nelly swearing “I do.” She is actually being sworn in by the judge. Then the lights dim again to evening, as the woman discuss chastising the townsfolk for allowing an unsavory character to terrorize them with his growling and illicit spying into their private lives.
This character the audience later learns is Skelly Manor, who is at the heart of the scandal for which the gossiping woman believe the town must now take ownership of the tragedy. His murder is central to the play, and the audience it led through the various key moments leading up to the murder. The audience also learns how the community viewed Skelly as the towns immoral character and there was genuine hostility toward him with the exception of Cora.
As the play moves on from scene to scene, sometimes with two areas of the stage at the same time makes for an interesting underscoring giving a sense of the simultaneity of location, as well as past, present and future.
The actors did an excellent job in portraying their individual characters. The different personalities were revealed through their everyday gossip, domestic exchanges, including their responses to the crisis of Skelly’s death. As a group the characters finally come together at the end based on the Judge/Preacher’s insistence on accepting collective responsibility for Skelly’s demise, they close ranks and begin to function as a cohesive community.
This play was hard to follow at times, certainly a college level endeavor pulled off rather well by these talented young students. The Director Paula Baldwin did an outstanding job, while the technical crew lights, sound, set construction, set design and costume design led by Technical Director Rick Dills, and Assistant Director/Stage Manager Emily Kohn were all superb.
Meanwhile, the stage actors were exceptional led by a convincing Jared Wilson as Skelly Manor, Morgan Timberlake as Wilma, Andrea Mims as Martha, Amanda Millet as Nelly Windrod, Tara Esmailian as Mary Windrod, Trajan Mobley as Judge/Preacher, Gabriela Umanzor as Cora Groves, and other key performers including Max Becker, Devine Drummond, Will Parsons-Carper, Danielle Vanasse, Gray Fandel, Tijhan N’gum, Mackenzie Garlick, Grace McKinney, Ashlyn Clark and Abigail Gallup.