Review: 'Arsenic' delights on Colerain's stage

At one’s elderly aunts’ house, one wouldn’t expect to find a dead body on the windowsill or eleven more in the basement. Mortimer Brewster (Ryan Mulvaney) found just that when he went over to his aunts’ home to pick up his girlfriend, Elaine Harper (Sam McDaniel) in Colerain High School’s production of “Arsenic and Old Lace.” 

Written by Joseph Kesselring in 1939, “Arsenic and Old Lace” is best known for its film adaptation, directed by Frank Capra and starring Cary Grant as Mortimer Brewster. Set in Brooklyn, the play follows Mortimer Brewster as he discovers just how crazy his family is. “Arsenic and Old Lace” is based on real events; a woman by the name of Amy Archer-Gilligan allegedly took in boarders and then poisoned them in order to take their pensions. Kesselring took this idea and created a comedy from it. 

Overall, the show was very funny and well done. Most of the characters’ comedic timing was on the nose and the actors stayed in character throughout the entire play. The characters played off each other very well and the main characters had good chemistry. 

Macartney Greer and Kim Estenson were excellent in their roles as Abby and Martha Brewster. The actresses had obviously spent quite a bit of time working together seeing as their comedic timing was exceptional and their chemistry was fantastic. They stayed in character the entire time and got a lot of laughs from the audience. Ryan Mulvaney was very good as Mortimer Brewster; he used the stage well and had good comedic timing. 

The supporting characters were exceptional. Veerla Smit, an exchange student from the Netherlands, was fantastic as Dr. Einstein. Her accent worked well with the character and she knew how to use the stage well. Micah Price was hilarious as Teddy, the insane nephew. His comedic timing was spot on and he got many laughs from the audience. Price’s character never faltered and he had the audience laughing when he hid behind the couch. Sam McDaniel was very good as Elaine Harper. She was very natural and had amazing stage presence. Brandon Townsend got a ton of laughs as Officer O’Hara. His comedic timing was exceptional and his character was well developed. Whenever he walked on stage, the audience’s interest level seemed to increase. 

The set of “Arsenic and Old Lace” was very nice; it was well made and fit the story perfectly. Costumes and makeup were also very good. The lights were used in a very creative way: dimmed when the lights were supposed to be out and then made brighter when someone “turned on” the lights. A few of the actors’ microphones had some problems throughout the show, but the actors continued on until the microphones began working again. 

Overall, Colerain High School’s production of “Arsenic and Old Lace” delighted its audience. Maybe next time you are at your aunt’s house, check the basement. You never know what could be down there.

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