January 23, 2022 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Review: “Arsenic and Old Lace”

By Kelly Hartog

 

Playwright Joseph Kesserling first dreamed up his play “Arsenic and Old Lace” back in 1939.

It was originally conceived as a dark drama based on the true story of a woman by the name of Amy Archer-Gilligan, who took in boarders and then poisoned them for their pensions.

However, thanks to the genius of collaborators Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse, they quickly turned the drama into a comedy and created the roles of Abby and Martha Brewster – two elderly aunts – who would do the requisite bumping off.

Roping in Boris Karloff as a lunatic killer to play the role of wayward Brewster nephew Jonathan, who is constantly referred to as looking just like Boris Karloff, was a stroke of genius. The show played to rave reviews and the 1944 Frank Capra film of the same name starring Cary Grant was also a massive hit.

And in 2017 at the Odyssey, the play has lost none of its luster, thanks to terrific ensemble casting and a deft hand by director Elina de Santos, who never lets the action flag.

It’s a joy to watch the pas de deux unfold between the murderous aunts, played to perfection by Sheelagh Cullen and Jacque Lynn Colton.

Their sweet, frail demeanors coupled with their genuine desire to help assuage their elderly boarders’ loneliness (by sending them into the next world with some potent elderberry wine), makes it impossible not to fall in love with them.

Alex Elliot-Funk as the hapless Teddy Brewster who thinks he’s President Roosevelt, manages to steer his character away from an all too easy caricature, so that his constant trips to “Panama” (aka the cellar), and his endless bounding up and down the stairs yelling “Charge,” are humorous, yet tinged with an element of sadness.

Nephew Mortimer Brewster, in the hands of J.B. Waterman, is a study in falling apart as he moves from disbelief to complete apoplexy when he realizes what the aunts are up to.

Gera Hermann as the mad murderer Jonathan Brewster is completely up to the task (and a fine Boris Karloff look-alike), when the plot thickens as he returns to the house with his own dead body.

As the mayhem ensues with Jonathan and the aunts trying to one-up each other on who has killed the most people, the cast comes together to ratchet up the comedy. Special mention to Michael Antosy as Officer O’Hara who just wants a literally captive Mortimer to listen to the play he’s written.

The beautiful tri-level set with period furnishings and props sets the scene perfectly, and subtle lighting and sound make for a wonderful two hours and 20 minutes at the theatre.

The cast of “Arsenic and Old Lace.” 

Arsenic and Old Lace

Odyssey Theatre Ensemble

Runs through Oct. 8

2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., 90025

Tickets: www.OdysseyTheatre.com

310.477.2055, ext. 2

Related Posts

Santa Monica’s Future: Will Developers or Residents Rule? – Part 3 Our Boulevards

January 21, 2022

January 21, 2022

This is the 3rd of a 5 part article outlining serious issues that Santa Monica residents and the City Council...

Letter to the Editor: A Solution for Drivers and Mountain Lions Alike

January 21, 2022

January 21, 2022

The recent story, Local Mountain Lions Show First Reproductive Effects of Inbreeding, highlights a study that found mountain lions in...

Opinion: Housing Battle Heats up in Signature Season

January 21, 2022

January 21, 2022

By Tom Elias, Columnist Even before a proposed homeowner-inspired measure aiming to restore full zoning powers to local governments hit...

Santa Monica’s Future: Will Developers or Residents Rule? – Part 2 Our Downtown

January 14, 2022

January 14, 2022

This is the 2nd of five weekly articles looking at the history and current condition of Santa Monica’s beachfront environment...

Column: Let’s talk About the Soil

January 12, 2022

January 12, 2022

Everyone knows that we are undergoing a climate change not seen on the earth before. We all understand what is...

A New Years Glimpse Into Santa Monica’s Future: Will Developers or Residents Rule?

January 7, 2022

January 7, 2022

It’s a New Year, a make-or-break year for Santa Monica!! How much do you care about your city and it’s...

Opinion: Attorney General Spurs on Big 2022 Housing Battle

January 7, 2022

January 7, 2022

By Tom Elias, Columnist There will be plenty of political battles next year, starting with likely reelection challenges to Gov....

Should California Have a Formal Right to Shelter?

January 3, 2022

January 3, 2022

By Tom Elias, Columnist On a de facto basis, Californians have had a right to shelter for many years. But...

SM.a.r.t Wishes for 2022

January 3, 2022

January 3, 2022

We wish for: All California residents to gain back the control of their Cities from Sacramento’s draconian power grab by...

“Love Actually Live” – a Holiday Gift to You at the Wallis

December 23, 2021

December 23, 2021

Dazzling.  Remarkable.  Superb.  Thrilling.  Stunning. Spectacular. Glorious. Sparkling.  Sensational.  Glittering.  Mesmerizing.  Astonishing. Brilliant. Vibrant.  Enthralling.  Enchanting.  Riveting.  Fascinating. Innovative. If...

SMa.r.t. 2021 Christmas Card

December 22, 2021

December 22, 2021

Dear Readers, SM.a.r.t. (Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow) wish you all a joyous Holiday Season and a Wonderful...

Seismic Water Resiliency

December 16, 2021

December 16, 2021

This is the 2nd part of two-part article  (see smmirror.com/2021/12/sma-r-t-column-its-not-your-fault/ for the first part) Last week we wrote about the...

SMa.r.t. Column: It’s Not Your Fault

December 13, 2021

December 13, 2021

This is a two-part article Two large tectonic plates are engaged in a titanic multi-million year battle to slip past...

One of LA’s Best Omakase Counters is Tucked Away in a Santa Monica Hotel Lobby

December 8, 2021

December 8, 2021

Sushi Chef Masa Shimakawa’s Soko restaurant offers an extraordinary culinary experience By Sam Catanzaro Tucked into the lobby of a...