Fall Play Review: Arsenic and Old Lace


Emily Parnicky

“Arsenic, strychnine, and just a pinch of cyanide.” From Nov. 15-17, The Little Theatre held three performances of “Arsenic and Old Lace” by Joseph Kesserling. Our dedicated actors performed the story of the Brewsters, a well loved family in Brooklyn, NY in 1944. Aunt Abby (Abby Mayock) and Aunt Martha (Luz Trueba) are well loved, apparently paragon citizens. The story kicks off when the aunts’ nephew Mortimer Brewster (Gabriel Shumway), a condemnatory theater critic, and Elaine Harper (Sophie Stetson), his lover and daughter of the local pastor, come to visit the aunts. To Mortimer’s horror, he discovers that his quaint and sweet aunts have been murdering old men with their homemade poisonous elderberry wine and burying the bodies in the basement, where Mortimer’s delusional brother Teddy Brewster (who believes he is Theodore Roosevelt) digs what he thinks to be the Panama Canal.

Aunt Abby (Abigail Mayock) smiles suspiciously after offering Mr. Gibbs (Casper Mikkelsen) a glass of wine. Photo by Raymond Xia.

Mortimer’s plight doesn’t stop at having to keep the secret that his only family are murderers from Elaine; the family soon gets a visit from company no one was expecting. Jonathan Brewster, Mortimer’s deranged brother, had come home from his worldwide murder spree with the intention to use his uncle’s old laboratory (with his plastic surgeon accomplice Doctor Einstein) as a facial reconstruction hospital of sorts. With the help of the hovering police force (Jackson Skibel, Nathan Stevenson, Maya Williams-Russell, and Vivian O’Connor), the Brewsters help bring justice to Johnathan without uncovering their own secret in the process.

Overall, this play gave the whole crowd a good time. The laughing in the Little Theatre throughout the play was unmistakable. From the beautiful set to the amazing acting, the show was a testament of the theater program’s hard work. The actors, who ranged from faculty members to Middle Schoolers, put in strong effort to develop their characters. Many saw and appreciated their devotion to their parts. Specifically, the debut of Abby Mayock was phenomenal. She did a wonderful job engaging the hospitable spirit of an old woman from the era. The actors tried new things, with everything from German accents (props to Brooklynn Moore) to playing historical figures in a new light (good job to Oliver Barcome-Laflamme). The stage crew and booth’s hard work also helped make the show possible.