Coming up with an original costume every Halloween isn't easy. Sometimes what you think is original turns out to be what ten others have already thought of. This year, my friends Charles and Deirdre threw a different kind of Halloween party in which all the guests dressed as characters from Shakespearean plays..
The invitation was printed on paper that had been treated to look appropriately aged. The wording was very formal: "Mr. and Mrs. William Shakespeare cordially invite you to celebrate All Hallows Eve with us." The location, date and time were written below as well as instructions to submit our first and second choice for the character we wanted to come as and they would notify the guests which was not already taken. The party was to be held in the banquet hall of a hotel in town.
I wasn't familiar with any of Shakespeare's plays except Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet, so I did some research. At the library I discovered a great book summarising the story lines of each play and listing all the major characters. Some of the plots sounded very intriguing and I was interested in reading them. I chose Lady Viola from “Twelfth Night". Viola disguises herself as a man so as to serve Orsino, the Duke of Illyria and, of course, falls in love with him, but is unable to reveal her true self. I was intrigued by the character and the story. After some additional internet research I realised that any costume from any of Shakespeare's plays would be too elaborate to make myself, so I decided to rent one.
I received a call from Deirdre that Lady Viola was not taken. she also informed me that I could bring a guest if I wanted to (and hinted that the role of Viola's love interest was still available). I went to the costume rental shop and tried on several gowns until I found one that was perfect.
When I pulled up outside the hotel, a valet was waiting to take my car. I went inside the banquet hall which had been exquisitely decorated in 16th century decor. Charles was dressed as William Shakespeare and Deirdre as a courtesan. They greeted each guest at the door as they entered. The electric light chandelier was turned down low and silver candle sticks with white candles on each table provided the only light. The tables were arranged around the dance floor and covered in plum table cloths. Each place was set with pewter plates and matching goblets.
A group of musicians played Elizabethan music on authentic instruments. Everyone had a great time acting out our character roles. The Capulets and the Montagues got into an argument about whose fault it was that Romeo and Juliet fell in love. The guy dressed as Hamlet pretended to kill the guy that came dressed as his uncle. It was a good thing I didn't find anyone to play Orsino, Viola's love, because I met a guy at the party who had come dressed as the Duke. His name is Jack and we really hit it off. The photographer took a picture of us talking.
There was a table covered with a plum damask table cloth and food was set out on silver trays and bowls. There were roasted pumpkin seeds, sweet breads, sliced apples and caramel dip, meat tartlets, cubed cheese and a delicious spinach dip served in a round loaf of bread. There was also mulled wine as well as hot cider.
Since it was Halloween, we all gathered around for a ghost story or two. Everyone filled their goblets with wine or cider as Charles extinguished some of the candles and read several short stories by Edgar Allen Poe. Of course, he was born nearly two hundred years after Shakespeare lived, but there is no denying Poe is a master of fear. It was a night I will never forget and I am looking forward to their next Halloween party.