Arsenic and Old Lace Performs a Quirky Set of Events

Thursday, July 22, 2010

by Tracy Nelson

Published in The Point Weekly on November 17, 2003

The most recent production at Salomon Theatre, Arsenic and Old Lace, brings together some unlikely characters to produce one delightful play.

Arsenic and Old Lace, a comedy adapted from the play by Joseph Kesserling, tells the story of Mortimer Brewster, just an average guy, and his very quirky family set back in the 1940s.

Mortimer has always known that his family was not completely normal. One of his brothers believes himself to be Theodore Roosevelt, while the other brother, Jonathan, believes himself to be an escaped murderer who looks like Boris Karloff. His two aunts, Abby and Martha, are just as sweet as can be.

But soon, Mortimer discovers that his two aunts have been secretly poisoning old men who come to stay at their house  and then burying their bodies in the cellar. And they actually consider what they do to be charity. Let’s just say that Mortimer is less than understanding about the situation and stumbles about throughout the rest of the play trying to figure out how to protect his aunts.

The plot thickens even more when Mortimer’s convict brother, Jonathan, and his intoxicated German accomplice, Dr. Einstein, return home in the hopes of stashing their latest victim.

The cast delivers an outstanding performance by adding humor to a dark and twisted plot.

Matthew David Curley, a senior Theatre major, playing Mortimer, is beautiful as a confused and panicky nephew trying to make sense of his family’s eccentric behaviors.

Likewise, Don Keenan, a junior Theatre major delivers a hilarious performance as Jonathan’s drunken, anxious partner with a heart. With his added German accent, accentuated by a tremble in his voice, Keenan consistently sounds both scared and nervous by his current situation.

Lastly, Greg Good, a sophomore Psychology major, playing Jonathan, performs with confidence. He takes charge of the room as a frightening and intimidating bully with makeup that makes him look like Frankenstein.

The performance would not be complete without excellent set designs and costumes.

The set design, which consists of the inside of a two-story house, focusing on the dining and living room, allows the characters to appear like they are moving constantly throughout the house, when in actuality the whole play occurs in one room.

The characters’ costumes and makeup are completely believable, whether they are intended to look like they are 70 years old, like man who hasn’t showered in days, like a patient of one too many plastic surgeries, or like a former president.

The play ran from November 11-15 and November 22, 2003.