Great script is brought to life

By Tristan Harris Friday 13 April 2012 Updated: 24/04 14:52

Arsenic and Old Lace

Palace Theatre, Redditch

Friday, March 30

THERE were lots of laughs at the Palace Theatre as All and Sundry performed Joseph Kesselring’s classic Arsenic and Old Lace.

The play centres around drama critic Mortimer Brewster who, in between reviewing plays and trying to decide whether or not to marry the love of his life Elaine Harper, has to also deal with his two aunties Martha and Abby who have acquired a penchant for putting old men out of their misery.

The show enabled the audience to take a break from the doom and gloom of the petrol crisis and see a performance which was fuelled by plenty of energy, erraticness and enthusiasm.

This great script was really brought to life by another talented cast that took the writer’s intended dramatic tension and used it to the full to create a hilarious night of entertainment.

Everyone played their part on the night but Barbara Treen and Mary Field excelled in their roles as twittering old aunties Martha and Abby. Their dead-pan approach showed perfectly the naivety and irony of their characters who, in their own little world, took a moral high ground on giving their victims a ‘good

Christian burial’ in the cellar and praising police for the good jobs they did in protecting them, despite being murderers.

That aspect, coupled with the brilliant Rory McGhie, who as favourite nephew Mortimer, was frantically running around trying to cover up the old dears’ antics made this production. His comedy timing, erratic actions and mannerisms were immense - especially against the backdrop of the aunties’ incessant ramblings.

Malcolm Berwick was suitably evil as prodigal baddie Jonathan and his side-kick, alcoholic surgeon Dr Einstein, was well-played by Roger Goddard.

And, if all that wasn’t enough, Chris Hall was also fantastic as eccentric fantasist Teddy Brewster who believed he was American President Roosevelt. His brief appearances added even more laughs to the mix in what was a frantic comedy that you just could not take your eyes off for a minute.

Tristan Harris

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