Intrigue, twists and turns, period costumes, interesting characters – theater-goers will find all of this and more in the Perry Community Theatre production, "My Cousin Rachel," by Daphne Du Maurier, slated for Aug. 9 and 10 at the McCreary Community Building Theater.
Tickets go on sale Wednesday at the McCreary Community Building and cost $10. The play will be given at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 9 and Aug. 10 at the McCreary Building Theatre.
Co-directors Judy Swift and Merrilee Bales, both of Perry, promise people attending will quickly be pulled into the dramatic story line. The main character, Rachel has a complex personality, that comes out during the play, in which she is suspected of killing her husband and trying to poison another character who has fallen in love with her
"As the play moves forward, you start to see the layers of her personality peeled back, and you begin to understand her a little better, or at least you think you do," Bales said.
Rachel, played by Brenda Roberts, shows up at a great house in Cornwall which has inherited by a young Philip Ashley, played by Casey Finn, after the death of his uncle, who was like a father to him. Rachel is the young Italian woman his uncle had married during a trip to Rome. A short time after the marriage, the uncle dies in what friends and family believe are mysterious circumstances. Many of them suspect he was poisoned by his wife.
Rachel, his widow, while not particularly welcomed at first, soon endears herself to Phillip, who falls in love with her. This makes his life-long friend and neighbor who is in love with Phillip very jealous. The friend is Louisa Kendall. Her father, Nicholas, who has acted as a trustee for Philip’s inheritance does not like the woman, and believes he is only after Phillip’s inheritance. Louisa is played by Ella Peitz, and her father by Mark Holmes.
Philip becomes ill, and his relatives and friends are fearful he is being poisoned by Rachel with some special herb tea she makes. Enter a mysterious and somewhat sinister friend of Rachel’s from Rome, Signor Antonio Rainaldi, played by Rudy Zagar, and the plot thickens.
Philip proposes marriage to Rachel, but is quickly rebuffed. Other Characters adding richness to the plot are Pat Graney, who plays the trusted servant Seecombe, who is concerned about the influence of woman in the house, while Aaron Bale, who plays James, the house boy.
Bales and Swift said people will be surprised by the twist at the end, which will leave them pondering the characters and motives after the end of the play. "We’ve been wanting to do this play for a long time," Swift said. "The theater group hadn’t done a play for a couple of years, since 2011. We really needed an infusion of new blood and new people to step forward again to do this production."
And, when Swift, John Glass, another Community Theatre member, and Bales began putting out feelers and then casting calls for "My Cousin Rachel," they were pleasantly surprised. Bales said people should be pleased with the cast, who all have theater and stage experience. The audience also should enjoy the set and costumes, with the play set in the late 1800s in an old English manner. The cast contains players with a variety of ages, but all with community theater acting experience, Bales said. .