Das Gespenst von Canterville

Act 1

Canterville Castle, a noble manor tucked away in an eerie forest in Scotland, is haunted by the castle ghost, Sir Simon de Canterville.

The housekeeper, Mrs. Umney, welcomes the new owners of the castle: the entrepreneur Dr. Georg König and his three children, a daughter Virginia and two brothers Leon and Noel. The two boys think the “old box” (their new home) is “totally wicked” and they immediately rampage through the house.

Virginia is not happy about the fact that Dr. König has also brought his assistant Frauke-Beeke Hansen along with him. After all, it is only a year since Virginia’s mother died …

Mrs. Umney introduces her son David, who takes Virginia on a tour of the castle. Frauke-Beeke notices a bloodstain. This was where a crime was once committed, explains Mrs. Umney. The bloodstain cannot be rubbed away: anyone who tries to remove it will provoke the castle ghost. When Frauke tries, the lights go out … and when they come on again, the bloodstain is still there!

It occurs to Virginia that David Umney bears a remarkable resemblance to the painting of Sir Simon de Canterville …

When they have all retired to their rooms, the ghost of Sir Simon starts to wander through the house. Georg König is not at all impressed with the apparition and advises him to rub some grease on his chains and to use some toothpaste. The ghost is offended by this lack of respect. When he is then attacked by Leon and Noel, he has had enough and disappears – for the time being …

Sir Simon recalls his past exploits, when he was still able to scare people properly. The company of house ghosts applaud him.

Next morning Frauke-Beeke appears, and she is in a good mood. The bloodstain is still there (and is now green), but the purchase agreement has been confirmed and the conversion works can now start. She also wants to turn Mrs. Umney and her son out of the castle. Virginia is horrified when she discovers this.

Sir Simon decides not to wait until midnight but to terrify these insolent new arrivals during the day as well. Frauke-Beeke has one of her attacks of hysteria.

Sir Simon overhears a conversation between Dr. König and Virginia, who misses her mother. Virginia would like to prevent Frauke-Beeke from carrying out her plans for the castle.

In her imagination, Virginia hears the voice of her dead mother singing her to sleep.

Act 2

Virginia is still asleep in an armchair in the castle hall. In her dreams she sees the ghost killing his wife, long ago. When she wakes up, Sir Simon is standing before her. She asks him how he could have done such a terrible thing. As the two are quarrelling, Leon and Noel appear and abuse the ghost, who eventually escapes through the chimney. Virginia thinks they are being mean to him. David and Virginia become closer. Mrs. Umney is beside herself – she has opened a telegram which was meant for Frauke-Beeke, revealing that Canterville is to be converted into a Halloween Event Hotel – with a genuine castle ghost!

Sir Simon returns, and he and Virginia are reconciled.

Next morning, Georg König goes off for a business meeting. Before he sets off, he makes Frauke-Beeke promise that she will not make a start on the building plans. But scarcely has he left when she lets in the workmen to carry out “the necessary preparations for the demoli­tion of Canterville Castle”! Virginia, David and Mrs. Umney are horrified, and Leon and Noel also want Canterville to stay as it is. They hatch a plot against Frauke-Beeke: they pack her into a moving crate and have her taken away by the workmen.

Sir Simon confides in Virginia: he has been longing for sleep for 400 years. But only when “a child pleads for the sinner in her prayers” will the curse be lifted. Virginia bravely follows him …

Georg König returns and discovers that Frauke-Beeke has been “disposed of “and that Virginia has disappeared. A frantic search for her ensues.

Virginia returns: she has redeemed the ghost. Georg König now wants to renovate the castle and sell it. But he learns from Mrs. Umney that the line of the Cantervilles has not died out after all. The sale of the castle to König is therefore null and void …