"the gross and scope of my opinion ..." Hamlet I,1.
Thursday, December 06, 2012
ARSENIC AND OLD LACE
AND OLD LACE
at Brentwood Theatre
Kesselring's classic piece has plenty to say about drama critics, and
the "death of the theatre". But it has remained perennially
popular since it hit Broadway in 1941.
brought it to Brentwood in Wendi Sheard's painstaking production,
with an ominously ticking longcase clock, and wallpaper almost worth
a character credit in its own right.
black comedy was well served by two actors in particular – Darren
Matthews as the sinister Jonathan, who, while hardly a dead ringer
for Karloff, was disturbingly convincing as a man who's had his face
reconstructed by a crazy surgeon, played with relish and an uncanny
accent by William Wells.
other Brewster brothers were Neil Gray as the journalist, with some
nice one-liners and a great way with puzzlement and panic, and Gary
Catlin very watchable as Teddy, charging upstairs, convinced he's
President. Excellent support from Iain Attiwell as would-be lodger
Howlett looked the part – coiffure, couture, cosmetics – as
Mortimer's fiancée, and the two sweet old spinsters with the lethal
elderberry wine were Nicola Stacey and Dawn Cooke, very impressive in
their funeral garb.
pace and bigger, bolder performances would have made this three-acter
even more enjoyable, but the audience reacted warmly to the macabre
mayhem in pre-war Brooklyn.