Theater Info for the St. Louis region

Pattonville High School Arsenic and Old Lace

By • Oct 27th, 2011 • Category: Cappies

There are twelve dead bodies in the cellar, three murderous family members, a doctor that can change people’s faces, and a man who thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt. Could this be the newest horror flick? No, this hilarious tale of one very strange family is retold in Pattonville High School’s production of Arsenic and Old Lace.

Written in 1939 by Joseph Kesselring, Arsenic and Old Lace is a dark comedy centering around the eccentric Brewster family. Abby and Martha Brewster are two aunts who together have put to rest twelve elderly, and lonely, gentlemen using a mix of poison in their homemade elderberry wine. When their nephew Mortimer, a soon to be married theatre critic, finds out what has transpired in their home, he starts to freak out as he finally sees the true side of his family. His brother Teddy thinks he is President Theodore Roosevelt, and his other brother Jonathan is a psychopath that just came home with an odd surgeon with an undistinguished accent. As they all meet together, the dynamics of this unconventional family starts to spiral out of control into chaos.

With great chemistry and a good sense of comedy, Pattonville’s Pirate Players worked with great technical elements to produce a classic story.

One interesting element of the show was the binding chemistry between all of the characters. Every little ensemble worked together to create a convincing relationship, such as Mortimer and Elaine (Sam Decker and Anna Pirrie) and Jonathan and Dr. Einstein (Harry Kolmer and David Robinson). Aaron Landgraf as Teddy Brewster was spot on. He captured the mannerisms of Teddy Roosevelt beautifully, and had impeccable comedic timing. Sam Decker (Mortimer) was able to let his normality shine through the strangeness around him, using well developed characterization. Mr. Gibbs and Officer O’Hara (William Hogenmiller and Jacob Painter) stood out as featured roles with their memorable delivery and emotion.

Although the energy throughout the show reached a very high peak, at other times it was very low and the show seemed to drag. Some actors took advantage of the times they weren’t in the spotlight to continue acting, and add more interesting depth to their characters. Others however, felt a bit lost at times.

The technical elements complemented the show very nicely, with a authentic looking set and realistic props that added to the believability of the story. The costumes overall seemed to fit the time period, though they didn’t always seem to fit the actors correctly. Sound (Katie Licameli) did a wonderful job with the balance of all the actors, and never missed a cue. The lighting, although sometimes blinding the audience, was overall well done to convey the time of day.

With an overall sense of harmonic comedy with the well characterized actors and authentic technical work, Pattonville’s Pirate Players left the audience dying for more.

by Sarah Clifton of Marquette High School

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