REVIEW: Arsenic and Old Lace @ Northenden Methodist Church 

For those familiar with Arsenic and Old Lace, it is usually the classic film starring Cary Grant which springs to mind.

This makes bringing the story to the stage somewhat of a challenge for any theatre company. 

But it has to be said that the Northenden Players have pulled it off with aplomb, with a production which rivals some professional efforts I have seen. 

For the benefit of those not familiar with the story, originally penned by playwright Joseph Kesserling, it tells the tale of two sweet old ladies whose mission it is to help sad, lonely old souls escape the sorrows of the world by slipping arsenic in their elderberry wine and burying them in the cellar.

They are aided and abetted in their madness by their barmy bugle playing brother Teddy, who is convinced he is Theodore Roosevelt. Caught up in all this is Mortimer Brewster, who appears the only sane member of the family and attempts to protect his aunties with hilarious results. 

With twelve bodies buried in the cellars the plot thickens when Mortimer’s long lost criminally insane  brother Jonathan arrives with a thirteenth.

It all sounds completely bonkers. It is, and it’s brilliant. 

Rosemary Mark and Lesley Bowers are superb as the two nutty sisters with expert comic timing and Robin Bell also makes a wonderful Teddy.

John Wheatley also delivers the laughs and the menace as Jonathan and there is a lovely interplay between him and plastic surgeon sidekick Dr Einstein played beautifully by Tim Collier. 

At the centre of it all Ben Thomas is very good as Mortimer, delivering some of those classic lines, my favourite being “madness runs in our family, it practically gallops.”

This is a wonderful pre-Christmas treat and you just have to time to catch it . The last show is tonight Saturday December 16 at Northenden Methodist Church Hall on Victoria Road.

Dave Toomer 

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