The Rimers of Eldritch, Terrapin Theatre, at the Athenaeum Theatre. Lanford Wilson’s 1966 play could be viewed as a prototype for his later works, likewise set in industry-fueled villages. In this case, Eldritch’s coal mines have shut down, leaving the town only a trucking business and neighboring middle-class community, Centerville, to support the few remaining residents. Economic deprivation and insecurity make Eldritch’s citizens increasingly hostile to their weaker brethren, until a murder ignites their wrath.
The details of the crime are presented in a nonsequential montage, and the mystery is solved only at the very end. But since Wilson was not yet fully in control of his form, there are too many repeated scenes and complications that serve no purpose other than to remind us that Eldritch is populated by bigoted, sanctimonious hypocrites prejudiced against the poor, the crippled, and the elderly.
Compounding the confusion in this production is a cast that’s almost uniformly young. Though capable enough, the actors are insufficiently distinguished by age, further impeding our comprehension. So, although we’re sickened by the injustice of the truth behind the bloodshed, that truth would have been even more compelling if we’d really come to know and care about the parties involved.