“Arsenic and Old Lace” is a farcical black comedy revolving around the Brewster family, descended from the “Mayflower” but now composed of insane homicidal maniacs. The hero, Mortimer Brewster, is a drama critic who must deal with his crazy, homicidal family and local police in Brooklyn, NY, as he debates whether to go through with his recent promise to marry the woman he loves. His family includes two spinster aunts who have taken to murdering lonely old men by poisoning them with a glass of home-made elderberry wine laced with arsenic, strychnine, and “just a pinch” of cyanide; a brother who believes he is Theodore Roosevelt and digs locks for the Panama Canal in the cellar of the Brewster home (which then serve as graves for the aunts’ victims); and a murderous brother who has received plastic surgery performed by an alcoholic accomplice, Dr. Einstein (a character based on real-life gangland surgeon Joseph Moran) to conceal his identity and now looks like horror-film actor Boris Karloff (a self-referential joke, as the part was originally played on Broadway by Karloff).
Author: Joseph Kesselring
Arsenic and Old Lace Preview (Curtain Calls 9.2 September 2013)
The History of Community Players: Part 8 (Curtain Calls 9.2 September 2013, p 3)
“Arsenic and Old Lace” opened Community Players’ 91st Season. The show had been previously produced on Players’ stage in 1985 and 1943. Like any great classic comedy, this show has been well-received in all three outings. The 2013 production saw the return of three veteran Players actors: Carol Scott, Tricia Stiller, and Alan Wilson. It was great to see them onstage again.