The Double Dealer, currently playing at the Essex Hall Theatre, has the most detailed costumes of any University Players show in a long time, says costume designer Agatha Knelsen.
The play, set in 1693 England, features a lot of silks and brocades for both women and men.
“What makes this show fun is that the men compete to be as beautiful as the women,” Knelsen says of William Cosgreve’s Restoration-era comedy. “It is certainly the richest period piece of the season—we are ending with a big splash.”
She says planning for the show began at about this time last year, starting in conversations with director Brian Taylor, proceeding to research on dress during the period, designs and then the actual making of the costumes by Jacqueline Khan and work-study students.
“Because this is the sixth show of the year, we had the time to put on a lot of the details,” says Knelsen. “I am incredibly proud of what it looks like on stage. It is beautifully polished.”
Even so, she says that audiences will not see the work involved under the fabric.
“These corset plays are made up of hidden spiral steels and pocket panniers,” she says. “The most elaborate part of the costume is the part you do not see.”
The play’s run continues through Sunday. Tickets can be ordered online at www.UniversityPlayers.com or by calling 519-253-3000, ext. 2808.
Once the curtain comes down on The Double Dealer, the costume shop will begin gearing up for next season, which will open with The Three Musketeers. Knelsen is looking forward to the challenge presented by the work, set in the early 17th century.
“That show is on my bucket list of costumes I have always wanted to design,” she says.