The Castle Spectre
A play in five acts by Matthew Gregory Lewis (1775 –1818)
Apparently based on a previous attempt at a gothic story by the author, inspired by Walpole's The Castle of Otranto, it was reworked into a play in 1796 and first performed at the Theatre-Royal, Drury-Lane, on Thursday, December 14, 1797.
Despite manifold obvious weaknesses the play was a popular success and according to Bertrand Evans (1947, pp 143-44), with its appearance "...Gothic drama assumed a popular position not below that of the Gothic novel. Besides having a very long and eminently successful first run, this concoction went through seven printed editions in 1798 and eleven by 1803." It was apparently still popular in 1829.
Performance history in South Africa
1816: First performed in the Cape Town Theatre, Cape Town by the English Theatricals on 20 January, 1816, in support of the Waterloo Fund. With The Village Lawyer (Macready) as afterpiece. Repeated on 3 February, 1816 and played once more on 17 August, 1816.
1839: Performed some time during the year in Grahamstown by the local amateur group using the motto Honi Soit qui Mal y Pense. This is based on a report by Laidler, who also calls the play The Castle Spectre, or The Ghost of Evelina.
Translations and adaptations
Bertrand Evans, Gothic Drama from Walpole to Shelley, University of California Publications in English vol. 18, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1947; pp.143-44.
Text of the play in the Victorian Plays Project
Bosman, 1928: pp. 148-9, 199, 212, 224, 389 and 417.
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