The Rimers of Eldritch, written by famed playwright Lanford Wilson, is being performed at the Black Box Theatre on South City Campus.
Directed by Salt Lake Community College theater instructor Julie Heaton, the play begins in the mid-twentieth-century in a small Bible Belt town by the name of Eldritch, Missouri.
“The Rimers of Eldritch is a tragic example of exactly what can happen when we allow ourselves to become consumed with gossip,” says Heaton.
Nearly 50 years later, this message still rings true. Rimers seeks to explore the twists and turns of life in a small town shaken by the murder of an outsider in the community.
In case you haven’t been to the Black Box Theatre, every seat is a front row seat.
The costuming and makeup was effective; young students look aged and haggard, their costumes covering them like, well, rime transforming the cast into a town of “rimers,” once normal citizens consumed by rumor.
Rimers is told through a fragmented series of short stories set in Eldritch, piecing together the events leading to the murder of an innocent man. This divided storyline is quite effective, a playwright’s Pulp Fiction a half century before this particular narrative style gained popularity.
As Woody Guthrie faded, so did the lights. Solemn voices echoed through the Black Box, the rimers of Eldritch chanting their stories. The characters paint a bleak picture of life in a town that has seen better days.
Eva, the young girl at the center of the climax of the play is the exception, as she is the one spot of fleeting hope in a dark town.
Eva, played by Andrea Del Mar Santiago, states that the early morning rime could be “salt or sugar, you wouldn’t know the difference,” but should have added that with the right costuming, you can’t tell the difference either.
The fragmented storyline plays out like an old record in a cracked mirror, certain scenes repeating in on-stage microcosms to add valuable context to preceding scenes, such as making a characters earlier sinister actions seem much more kindly once his motivations have been revealed. This fragmentation has the effect of showing the audience the town as a whole, before coloring it in in individual bits and patches. Unfortunately, the colors the rimers are painted in are the grays and blacks of dishonesty and despair.
“Sometimes, the truth could be sitting right in front of us and we just can’t see it,” says Heaton.
The Rimers of Eldritch displays exactly what can happen when we lose ourselves with gossip, but also shows that while someone may play the hero in a dark world, they may in fact be even darker than their peers.
The Rimers of Eldritch is currently playing at the Black Box until Nov. 8. Tickets can be purchased through the Grand Theatre box office.