The Rimers of Eldritch

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The Rimers of Eldritch
Written byLanford Wilson
CharactersRobert Conklin
Eva Jackson
Skelly Mannor
Evelyn Jackson
Nelly Windrod
Mary Windrod
Patsy Johnson
Mavis Johnson
Peck Johnson
Josh Johnson
Lena Truit
Martha Truit
Wilma Atkins
Cora Graves
Date premieredJuly 13, 1966
Place premieredLa MaMa Experimental Theatre Club
New York City
Original languageEnglish
SubjectA murder trial in a decaying Missouri town
SettingEldritch, Missouri

The Rimers of Eldritch is a play by Lanford Wilson. The play is set in the mid-20th century in Eldritch, Missouri, a decaying Bible Belt town that once was a prosperous coal mining community. The plot focuses on the murder of the aging local hermit, Skelly Mannor, by a woman, Nelly Windrod, who mistakenly thought he was committing rape when he was actually trying to prevent a rape from occurring.

Production history[edit]

The play premiered off-off-Broadway at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in July 1966, as directed by Wilson.[1] The production as directed by Michael Kahn opened off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theatre on February 20, 1967, where it ran for 32 performances. The cast included Dena Dietrich, Don Scardino, Helen Stenborg, Susan Tyrrell, and Bette Henritze, who won the Obie Award for Distinguished Performance.[2]

Wilson adapted his play into a television movie broadcast by PBS as the first episode of its Great Performances series on November 4, 1972.[3] The production was directed by Davey Marlin-Jones, and stars Roberts Blossom, Susan Sarandon, Rue McClanahan, K Callan, Will Hare, Kate Harrington, Frances Sternhagen, and Ernest Thompson.[4]

The play was revived at La MaMa in 1981 for the theater's 20th anniversary celebration. Wilson directed this production.[5]

Mark Brokaw directed a revival at the Second Stage Theatre that opened on November 8, 1988 and ran for 43 performances. The cast included William Mesnik, Adam Storke, and Amy Ryan. Reviewing the production for The New York Times, Mel Gussow cited Wilson's "sensitivity and his gift for language."[6]

Critical reception[edit]

Howard Thompson reviewed the television movie for The New York Times. He noted that "as a TV drama, it has a good cast, an astute director in Davey Marlin-Jones, and an authenticity of background.... the action is cluttered with a confusion of bits and pieces and even scenes that jump to the past and the future.... Mr. Marlin-Jones, with the plot edging forward, handles some scenes beautifully as in one gossipy exchange between two uneasy women, Sarah Cummingham and Helen Stenborg."[7]


  1. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: Rimers of Eldritch, The (1966)". Accessed August 28, 2018.
  2. ^ "1967 production" Lortel Archives. Archived September 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ PBS "Great Performances" (pdf)
  4. ^ "Theater In America: 'The Rimers of Eldritch' (TV)" Paley Center for Media. Accessed January 15, 2016.
  5. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: Rimers of Eldritch, The (1981)". Accessed August 28, 2018.
  6. ^ Gussow, Mel. "Theater review" The New York Times, December 1, 1988.
  7. ^ Thompson, Howard. "TV: All About Elections: Adults Can Learn from Children's Show on C.B.S. Narrated by Cronkite" The New York Times, November 4, 1972. p. 67. ISSN 0362-4331

External links[edit]