‘Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come’ to this show


Contributed photo

Jenny Sabliov, Staff writer

A theatrical piece, commissioned from award-winning playwright Mary Barile, will make its international debut at Mercyhurst University this week.
Playwright Barile adapted M.R. James’ story “Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad” into a stageplay that will be performed by the Mercyhurst Theatre program.
During the time director Brett Johnson, Ph.D., spent at the University of Missouri, he and Barile collaborated on multiple projects, so Johnson asked Barile to write a piece for the Mercyhurst Theatre program.
This is not the first time the Mercyhurst Theatre department has collaborated with Barile; the department put on a production of the stageplay “Anne of Green Gables” by Barile earlier this year.
Barile is the one who suggested adapting the short story, “Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad,” by M. R. James, for the stage.
Johnson approached alumna Bethany Sulecki (’15) to direct the play.
Grateful for the opportunity to direct, Sulecki approached the play by aiming to do the playwright justice.
She hopes to bring the characters and atmosphere of the ghost story to life.
“I love the way the story unfolds. It’s quiet and unsettling. You never quite know what will happen next,” Sulecki said.
Sulecki likes how the playwright expertly balances suspense with the humor that characterizes James’ original work.
Barile has said, “Ghost stories tell us so much about ourselves: who we are, what we value, who we love. And then there are stories that exist only to unsettle, the old fears of shadows and something that lies in wait.”
“M.R. James was a master of those tales, and ‘Oh, Whistle’ reminds you that the dark is never cozy. Or safe,” Barile said.
The original work takes place in the coastal town of “Burnstow,” which is a fictionalized version of Felixstowe, Suffolk.
Barile’s adaptation, however, takes place here in Erie, Pennsylvania, where a college professor, his sister and a friend discover a whistle on the shore of Lake Erie.
Once they blow the whistle, they summon an unknown entity.
To discover what the entity is, go see the performance.
Performances will take place Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m. and 11:55 p.m., Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 18 at 2 p.m. in Taylor Little Theatre.
General admission tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for senior citizens and students and $5 for youth and Mercyhurst students with their ID.
The tickets for the special midnight showing on Nov. 16 are half price.
Doors will open 30 minutes before the show begins.
Tickets can be purchased or reserved in advance or purchased an hour before each showing.