Review: Colerain proves laughter the best medicine in 'Arsenic'

There is nothing comparable to a good laugh. Laughter is the best medicine, and can cure anything from heartbreak to an illness even if just temporarily. Few things help us forget about our complicated lives more than sitting in the audience of a show and just laughing. Colerain High School’s recent production of the classic black comedy “Arsenic and Old Lace” surely would have helped anyone laugh their troubles away.

“Arsenic and Old Lace,” a three act play that originally appeared onstage in 1941, chronicles the misadventures of a Brooklyn family over the course of one action-packed night. Mortimer Brewster, a theater critic who lives in New York, travels out one night to pick up his fiancé for a night on the town at his aunt’s house when the escapades begin. Mortimer finds himself having to deal with his younger brother who is convinced he is President Theodore Roosevelt, his two seemingly sweet aunts, who reveal themselves to be killers, and the arrival of his notoriously hot-headed brother Jonathan.

Colerain High School’s performance was driven by their excellent cast which was firing at all cylinders. Each member of the cast was able to act with the chemistry of an actual family, making their performances of possibly unrealistic character so real and their jokes so piercingly funny.

Ryan Mulvaney delivered a spirited performance as Mortimer, the only relatively sane Brewster. From Mulvaney’s dramatic movements to his animated facial expressions he was able to rivet the audience with a fantastical amount of physical comedy. Beside him were Macartney Greer and Kim Estenson who were enchanting as Mortimer’s aged aunt’s Abby and Martha respectively. Greer and Estenson were able to transform into these feisty women before the audience with an outstanding level of chemistry. The honesty and dedication to their roles was evident and well worth their while in the end.

Vaysha Ramsey-Anderson’s Lt. Rooney and the Police Women of Brooklyn each delivered an entertaining performance that never in the least failed to make the audience smile. But the real stand out supporting cast member was Teddy, Mortimer’s youngest brother who believes he is Theodore Roosevelt. Micah Price’s performance as the flamboyant Teddy was never dull, as he constantly brought energy to the stage and never once failed to make the audience weak with laughter. Though some of the lines were often repeated, Price was able to keep each delivery fresh and new before sooner or later “charging” back up to his room.

Myriah Kissel and the light crew were creatively able to dim the lights when they were supposed to be off in the Brewster house without completely blinding the audience from what was happening. The lighting was coupled with the excellent set designed and developed by Megan Graff who masterfully created a versatile and well-built set for this single set show. Even with some small microphone problems, the cast and crew kept complete control of their show.

Colerain’s performance of “Arsenic and Old Lace” took anyone who was able to view it a place of laughter and joyful bewilderment. The cast and crew were able to truly turn in a well-rounded performance of a difficult production with apparent ease.
 

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