Last weekend saw the return of Strider Theater productions with Haunting Hour, a show that celebrates Halloween with three short plays run by students and theater staff at the College. As part of the final year of productions in Strider Theater, located in Runnals, before the scheduled opening of the Gordon Center for Performing Arts in the fall of 2023, Haunting Hour provided entertaining and seasonally relevant short plays.
The host of the show was a ghost played by Mariam Adegoke `26, who guided the audience through the plays, insinuating the haunting of Runnals. The ghost was implied to be that of Ninetta May Runnals as she watches different plays at Strider after her death in 1980. The Ghost Host introduced the first play, titled “The Grinding Woman.”
This play follows three students who find themselves in a situation familiar to any Colby student: stressing over studying for an exam. The students discuss their issues with each other — including the mention of a romantic past between two of them — as a woman stands behind them at a counter, wordlessly preparing cups of coffee and tea.
When one of the students, Poppy, played by Ella Grace Abisi `25, dares disturb this woman, the lights go out. The woman, known as “The Grinding Woman” and played by Mckenzie Martin `26, has exchanged her head for Poppy’s. This made for a sinister and slightly terrifying ending. The two other students, Nathaniel and Sophia, were played by actors Christopher Choi `24 and Camille Barnes `25.
The second play, “Green Light (Going),” was seemingly innocent initially. A mother has brought her two daughters, Liz and Kat, to a meaningful location for her marriage: an old dock near a green light. The dialogue and performances were very naturally comedic, using tropes in comedy to their advantage. Eventually, the audience finds out that they are actually all witches, and the daughters have hatched a plan to try to speak to their deceased father.
Their controlling mother, played by Alison Rutherford `25, murdered their father on the dock before they were born. Liz, played by Kiera Burke `26, and Kat, played by Audrey Palmer `25, attempt an incantation to bring back the ghost of their father to get his side of the story, but they are forced to leave before their mother finds them out. Once the girls have left the dock, the audience notices a hand coming out of the sea, which presumably belongs to their dead father, played by Gian Wagner `26.
The third and final play, “Celebrity Exit,” had a very different tone from the previous two. The play mixed non-narrated scenes with scenes where the main character, Robin, played by Isadora Wells `26, speaks directly to the audience to explain the context of the story.
Robin is working on finishing a book after graduating from the College, and uses the opportunity to “work” (i.e. read Stephen King books and sleep for the most part) when her partner, Marty, played by Xinyi Zhang `25, leaves to catch a plane during a storm.
During the night, Robin receives a call from the deceased father of an old Colby friend. As if a call from a dead person isn’t disturbing enough, this one came from a landline that was not connected to power. Marty and his old Colby friend Josh, played by Caleb Carr `24, do not believe Robin’s story until Marty witnesses another phone call firsthand at the end of the play.
All of the stories were entertaining, funny, and enjoyable. While not particularly scary, they definitely made for a fun time during Halloween weekend.
Upcoming shows at Strider Theater will be focused on dance, with Portland Ballet: Giselle, on Nov. 4 and Colby Dance Company: Break, Burn, Build on Nov. 18 and 19.
~ Nico Flota Sanchez `25