With Halloween just around the corner, Citamard Players brings W.S. Gilbert’s short play of horror, comedy and romance to life in “Ages Ago.” Directed by Josh Dorsheimer, this was a show made the audience jump with surprise one minute and then made them laugh hysterically the next minute.
The story takes place in 1869 in the ancient Scottish Glen Cockaleekie Castle, where Sir Ebenezer Tare (Alex Dorsheimer) is the current owner of the castle and refuses to let his niece Rosa (Dani Francisco) marry her poor suitor Columbus Hebblethwaithe (AJ Saraceno). However, the housekeeper Mrs. MacMotherly (Nicole Weerbouck) has the sixth sense, and tells them that the true title deed of the castle will be decided that very night. Many centuries earlier, a witch named Dame Rachel De Bohn (Amanda Schadler as her statue) cast a curse on the castle that causes ghost of the past owners to rise from their imprisonment (their own portraits) once every one hundred years to choose the new owner of the castle. Upon hearing this tale, the castle’s residents go to bed, and as the stage darkens, the statue of Rachel comes to life and stares hauntingly at the audience as she slowly exits the theatre.
The next scene begins, and the audience sees that the same actors from the previous scene are now acting as the ghosts of past owners. Francisco plays the innocent Lady Maude De Bohn, who comes out of her portrait and upon inspection, discovers that her portrait was painted by Leonardo Da Vinci. Saraceno now plays the sophisticated and slightly cocky Sir Cecil Blount, the owner after Maude, who woos her by telling her how he often caught himself staring at her portrait while he was still alive, and even kissed it a few times. Dorsheimer comes out as Lord Carnaby Poppytop, who happens to be the very distant grandson of Maude, but that doesn’t stop him from forming a bit of a love triangle between him and Cecil. However, he soon forms a love connection with Dame Cherry Maybud (Weerbouck), and all the ghosts decide amongst themselves that Columbus will be the new owner of the castle.
Though the show could’ve been a little longer, “Ages Ago” succeeds in having a creepy yet hilariously risqué tone and a solid cast. There’s the clichéd thunder and lightning flashes to make moments scarier and set that’s mostly black with some touches of white and red, but it’s done so in a way that adds to the humor and suspense. For both of her roles, Francisco has an innocent and girly charm, while Dorsheimer and Weerbouck are both entertaining and over-the-top in both of their roles. Cliff Catania brings plenty of sly comic relief as the castle’s butler and the recently finished portrait of Sir Brown. Saraceno handles playing total opposites, from bumbling everyman to suave aristocrat, very well. And though Schadler had no lines of dialogue aside from the occasional evil laughter, she still makes her creepy presence known during the show. During the bows at the end of the show, she sings “Science Fiction Double Feature” from “Rocky Horror Picture Show” while playing acoustic guitar, adding a cool and unexpected modern touch to the show.
All and all, “Ages Ago” is a fun, racy and at times chilling show that will put anyone in the mood for Halloween.