Sunday, October 30, 2005

Halloween: The First Night

Last night was the first of the 'Halloween evenings' at Tredegar House. I have reprised my role as Dr Jekyll. This means that I am one of the more respectably dressed characters that visitors to the House will encounter (and, believe me, they encounter some terrifying figures!). Dressed in my black cut-away coat I am sure I look the very model of Victorian elegance, as I welcome people into the Dining Room, which has been converted for the occasion into Dr Jekyll's study. By the end of the evening, however, after over three hours of doing the same thing over and over, I begin to look a bit bedraggled, the healthy shine gone from my cheeks, and my throat aching from all that coughing, spluttering and choking from drinking the 'potion'. Such is life. Mr Hyde, in his grotesque rubber mask, gets it much tougher. My job is a relatively easy one this year. I set the scene, Hyde makes 'em scream.

After re-reading 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' I have come to the surprising conclusion that I would probably be better suited to playing Hyde. My diminutive height and slight frame are much more in keeping with Stevenson's original description of the evil Hyde than that of the 'good' doctor. But since Halloween at Tredegar is basically about scaring people witless (and we certainly did that last night!), it is far better for Hyde to be more physically imposing and menacing than I could muster. Listen no more to my slightly jealous outpourings, it is just that I have come to the conclusion that at Tredegar House, at Halloween at least, bad guys DO get all the fun!

I think last night went quite well. Most people turn up to enjoy themselves; they laugh easily, scream easily, and generally do all the things you hope they will do, and a good time is had by all. Then there are those who see walking through the House as a challenge, almost an affront to their pride, they claim to have nerves of steel. These people are often teenagers, they stand surly with crossed arms, determined that nothing will make them smile, and nothing will make them scream. It is hard to make such people smile, but the satisfaction of making them jump is immense!

Dr Jekyll will be experimenting again tonight and tomorrow. I am sure the crowds will get livelier the closer we get to the night of Halloween itself.

Oh, and on a far brighter note, I hear that the Edney Gates gilding process is expected to be completed by March.

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