Review: Arsenic and Old Lace

Stevie Hertz 27 January 2016

A non-stop rollercoaster of confusion, calamity and charisma, this 1940s classic went down a storm in the Corpus Playroom. Set in Brooklyn, the plot follows the barmy Brewster family as events take multiple turns for the worse and the dark side of the family’s genes are rapidly revealed.

The audience are embraced in the loving arms of old Aunties Abby (Rebecca Cusack) and Martha (Jasmin Rees) from start to finish. Both hostesses performed exceptionally, and utterly convincingly with flawless accents, providing endless laughs whilst luring the audience into their sinister acts of charity.

The Corpus playroom transforms into a quaint and impressively dynamic living room, complete with period furniture, curiosities, a lot of lace and a glass or two of elderberry wine. The 1940s music, warm lighting, costumes and particularly well-done make up finish the set off, transporting the audience into an era of elegance.

Mortimer, played by the audacious Aurélien Guéroult, engages the audience with his energetic performance, providing an entertaining dynamic with his fiancé Elaine, played seamlessly by Gabrielle McGuiness, as the sharp wit of the script is brought into action. Colin Rothwell as the delusional Teddy storms about on stage blowing his trumpet and blasting orders, in an almost Captain Mannering style, while particular praise is due to Joe Shalom for his endearing and talented performance of O’Hara. The Machiavellian duo of Jonathon Brewster (Jerome Burelbach) and Dr Einstein (Henry Wilkinson) also gives an extremely convincing performance, exposing the dark side of the Brewster clan, complete with German accents, gruesome face paint and brilliant comical timing.

With such a large and talented cast this is true entertainment, packed with hilarity yet with a substantial and rewarding plot that keeps the pace going. Overall it is an evening of comedic revelry mixed with a hint of debauchery, topped off with a fantastic twist of humour. This slick performance really does ‘gallop’ with ‘insanity’ and will have you laughing out loud right from the opening.