Review: Colerain entertains with classic comedy 'Arsenic & Old Lace'

"A teaspoon of arsenic, half a teaspoon of strychnine, and just a pinch of cyanide," isn't really a recipe one would expect most gentle old ladies to know by heart. This is certainly not the case for Abby and Martha Brewster, two of the kindest, most charitable old dears in Brooklyn. But looks can be misleading, especially in Colerain High School’s production of Joseph Kesselring's "Arsenic and Old Lace." 

The well-known farce takes place in Brooklyn New York, 1941. The play begins when Mortimer Brewster, a drama critic who despises the theater, pays his aunts a visit to share the news of his recent engagement. His lively mood is quickly spoiled when he finds a dead body in the window seat and learns that his seemingly flawless aunts, beloved by the community, have taken on the hobby of poisoning lonely old gentlemen as one of their "charities.”

Macartney Greer (Abby Brewster) and Kim Estenson (Martha Brewster) portrayed their parts hysterically. Along with staying in character the entire time, the two girls added fantastic mannerisms that put some extra energy to the stage. As Mortimer, Ryan Mulvaney delivered a strong performance chock full of comedic double takes and authentic shock at his darling aunts' secret hobby and beaming announcement of their 12-man body count down in their cellar. 

The sinister arrival of Mortimer's murderous brother Jonathan (Sam Martini) and his accomplice Dr. Einstein brought a strong yet loud energy to the show. Veerla Smit portrayed her role as Dr. Einstein perfectly. Smit had a comically tender yet venomous presence to the stage, which left the audience laughing and feeling sorry for her character all at the same time. 

Brandon Townsend as Officer O'Hara, a would-be playwright, brought an unforgettable liveliness to the stage. Whether it was swinging around bottles, sloppily attempting to walk or explaining the plot of his play to Mortimer, Townsend left the audience dying for more. Micah Price, playing Teddy Brewster made the theater fill with laughter. Every time Price came on stage, one instantly knew the scene was going to be hilarious.

A beautifully designed set added a sense of believability to the show. It felt like one was sitting in the Brewster’s living room along with all of the drama that was involved. Light cues were spot on, along with timing for every single cast member. Props and costumes made this show come to life, filling it with charm and a sense of quaintness. 

Two mischievous old dames, a Teddy Roosevelt wannabe and just a splash of poisoned elderberry wine proved the perfect ingredients for a hilarious evening at Colerain High School’s production of "Arsenic and Old Lace.”

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