'Rimers of Eldritch' gets impressive performance

April 22, 1994|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,Special to The Sun

Take Thornton Wilder's "Our Town," inject a little rape and murder, spin the tale in the temporally discombobulated style of novelist William Faulkner, and you've pretty much got the gist of "The Rimers of Eldritch."

The Lansford Wilson play is being presented this weekend by the Moonlight Troupers of Anne Arundel Community College.

Someone has been raped in Eldritch, a small mountain town in the middle of Anywhere, U.S.A. Someone has been killed as well. But who? For what reasons? Under what circumstances? And, of course, whodunit?

You're going to have to set a spell and get to know a community shrouded in jealousy, boredom, hypocrisy, religiosity and lust before the mystery is unraveled. Well, mostly unraveled.

As the action flits back and forth between the present and various points in the past, you'll have plenty of time to assess the obvious difficulties involved in staging a disjointed ensemble piece like this one.

You'll be genuinely impressed at the skillful way director Barbara Marder and her talented players conquer time, space and more dramaturgical hurdles than you can shake a stick at to bring this emotional drama home.

That "Rimers" works at all is a tribute to the prodigious sense of timing displayed by everyone on stage.

Affecting performances are many, but you'll be particularly impressed by Patrick Bussink as the confused, innocent young Robert Conklin; by Karen Morgan and Matt McDunnell, who display palpable chemistry as an interestingly matched pair of -- lovers, and by Christy Behlke, who plays Patsy, Eldritch's hyper-hormonal Lolita. Perhaps the most remarkable performance of all is delivered by Jerry Vess as Skelly, the hog-slopper whose reputation as a "Peeping Tom" comes more from his propensity for seeing what others want to hide than from any illegal spying.

Rime, by the way, is an icy frost. And these residents of Eldritch are consummate rimers all, as they cover up their lives with cold, treacherous distortions that make secure emotional footing all but impossible. No doubt about it, their story makes an interesting play.

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