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Mortimer Brewster, a New York drama critic, gets engaged and then finds out his two sweet aunts are murdering lonely old men by serving them elderberry wind laced with arsenic, an act of mercy, they say.
Brewster tries to deal with this news and questions the sanity of his entire family in the mad capped comedy “Arsenic and Old Lace.”
The classic dark comedy begins showing at the Hardin County Playhouse this weekend.
It’s a type of comedy not seen much in today’s theater and film but the cast liked the 1940s farcical theme to the play.
“I love this role,” Pat Dugdale said of her role as one of the sweet murderous sisters, Abby Brewster, noting she's always liked the 1940s farcical film starring Cary Grant.
“Every night as I’m saying the lines they are agelessly funny,” Dugdale said.
It’s an example of comedy that exemplifies the old adage, “they don’t make them like they used to,” she said.
In the play, the sweet little aunts feel they are doing lonely old men a favor by killing them.
“We are pleasantly diluted,” said. Kim Tully, who plays the other sister, Martha.
The play has great lines that are perfectly placed, Tully said.
Jessica Eversoll, who plays Brewster’s fiancée Elaine, said she loves the little old aunts “wicked ways.” She has trouble not laughing at their lines while onstage.
The great lines also give way to classic physical comedy.
“It’s zany physical comedy,” said Jay Hemphill, who plays Brewster.
The playhouse often includes classics and he was glad to be a part of this production. He shoulders the role played by Grant in the original version. His character is totally clueless about how to fix all the situations that emerge during the play. The challenge, he said, is to play the humor that’s found in the subtext.
All agreed they like the classic farce humor because you have to “get it.” The joke isn’t always out there for everyone to see. The lines are quick and the joke is often found in the subtext.
A farce is like a puzzle, HCP director Bo Cecil said. If one piece is missing it all can fall apart.
“It’s so intricately connected you can’t change a lot and still keep the show going,” he said.
Everything in a farce goes at a quick pace with a lot of dialogue and the genre often has physical comedy to keep up with, Cecil said.
Sometimes the biggest challenge is to keep it all moving at a laughable pace, he said.
Like any kind of farce, this is an ensemble piece and every person is important to the production, Cecil said.
“It’s a fun, enjoyable piece," Cecil said. “It’s a classic but it never gets old, no matter how many times you’ve seen it.”
The HCP presentation of “Arsenic and Old Lace” runs 7 p.m. today and Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, 7 p.m. Oct 11-13 and 3 p.m. Oct. 14.
For more information call, (270) 351-0577 or go to www.hardincountyplayhouse.com.
Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or email@example.com.
If you go: Performances of “Arsenic and Old Lace” are at 7 p.m. today and Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, 7 p.m. Oct 11-13 and 3 p.m. Oct. 14 at Plum Alley Theater in the Historic State Theater complex in Elizabethtown.
Content is appropriate for the entire family.
Tickets are $15 for general admission, $13 for seniors, students, military and groups of 10 or more. For more information contact (270) 351-0577 or go to www.hardincountyplayhouse.com.
Mortimer Brewster - Jay Hemphill
Abby Brewster - Pat Dugdale
Martha Brewster - Kim Tully
Elaine Harper - Jessica Eversoll
Jonathan Brewster - Ron Blair
Dr.Einstein - Mitch Curry
Teddy Brewster - Jeremiah Shilling
Rev. Dr. Harpe - Michael Radford
Mr. Gibbs/Lt. Rooney - Ernie Holt
Officer Brophy - Mike Waters
Officer Klein - Dakota Jones
Mrs. Witherspoon - Barbara Watts
Director/Designer - Bo Cecil
Costume Mistress - Carrie Rhea