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The Phoenix Ring

Thirty-minute radio play

The script was deposited with the American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming, by Mrs Adria Canning in 1987. There is no record of any broadcast. Probably this was a script which Canning was still working on when he died in 1986, since the typescript shows signs of being an early draft with many changes and typographical errors. The subject reflects his growing interest in spiritual and religious questions, manifest in other works of his last period, namely the story The Daffodil Day and the novel Table Number Seven.

The play is set in the house of Anne Clark, a widow who runs a shop and lives with her sister Sophie Upton. Sophie runs private spiritualist seances, at which she has started to use a signet ring with the device of a phoenix. When the clients touch the ring, they revert to characters from their previous incarnations. Her credulous client, Lady Ethel, is very impressed on hearing the playback of her session. Her neighbour and suitor, Dr. Franklin, is sceptical but reluctantly impressed and worried. In a final seance, it is not the client but Sophie herself who is faced with a revelation that drives her to suicide.

The treatment of spiritualism and notions of reincarnation are very remote from the clinical exposure of a medium's trickery that Canning gave us in The Rainbird Pattern, the only other work of his which deals directly with the craft of spiritualism.