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September 27 , 2008

The Canterville Ghost


Oscar Wilde's spooky tale of a genteel English ghost clashing with a brash American family is endearing, hilarious and perfect reading for all ages. Much adapted for television and film, Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost tells the story of the Otises, a modern American family, who are looking to buy a house in the English countryside. ‘Canterville Chase’ possesses all of the trappings of a standard haunted country house – including large suits of armour and Gothic panelled library walls. However, it soon becomes difficult to ignore the spooky signs that ‘Sir Simon’ is haunting the house – the usual Halloween fare of rattling chains and bloodstains. Surprisingly, and hilariously, the Otises refuse to be scared; despite all of Sir Simon’s best flamboyant efforts and costume changes: stain remover is deployed to clean bloodstains and oil is applied to clanking chains. Instead, the poor revenant is faced with practical jokes from the two young twins in the family – and seeks solace by befriending fifteen-year-old Virginia instead, perhaps she holds the key to unlocking the mysteries of his being marooned on earth. Told from the unusual point of view of the ghost rather than the haunted party, it still bears the trademark Wildean moral message but the message is carried lightly in this entertaining, amusing and heart-warming Christmas story. With a new animated film featuring the voices of Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie (working together for the first time in thirteen years) making news, interest in this classic story is sure to re-emerge.
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