A Look Into Arsenic and Old Lace

Anjali Shah, Staff Writer

Taking place in the 1940s, this year’s fall drama, Arsenic and Old Lace, written by Joseph Kesselring, is full of secrets and surprises! Set to open on November 13, 2020, Arsenic and Old Lace may provide the bit of dark humor that is needed to uplift spirits in this dark time. Seniors Mo DePoortere, Lucas Falick, and Olivia Levey spoke to the Mendham Patriot about these unprecedented times for theater, and provided some background information about the show. 

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com.

Arsenic and Old Lace is set in the living room of the Brewster sisters. Mo plays Paige Brewster, sister to Olivia’s character Martha Brewster. The two have an interesting secret that will be revealed at the beginning of the play. Their nephew, Mortimer Brewster, played by Lucas Falick, was described as a harsh theater critic. The show is mainly focused on physical and intellectual comedy, along with dark humor that was popular in the 1940s. 

The pandemic has created an unprecedented theater season. Mo, Lucas, and Olivia told The Mendham Patriot that they would be lucky to have an in person audience and not have to wear masks. This idea has been deemed “The Dream Scenario” by the cast, crew, and production teams. However, it has been recognized that this is an unlikely situation. Without a doubt, this show will present unique challenges for the cast. The physicality of the humor in the play will be difficult to tackle while following the six-foot away and mask required guidelines. Lucas Falick explained this as being specifically challenging. “What worse of a show to not have an audience for than one where you’d usually be able to hear people laughing!” Many ideas have been discussed including having an outdoor viewing of the play on the football field, and a drive-in option. Mo suggests that the drive-in scenario could bring more comfort to the audience as individuals would be able to personalize their space. 

Being on stage has also been affected by COVID-19. Mo described that masks are likely to be incorporated into the show in one of two ways: characters will either receive their own custom mask that fits with their persona, or clear masks will be used. She also talked about adapting to the distance restrictions by adding gloves. Both Mo and Olivia’s characters could incorporate long gloves into their costumes which were customary in the 1940s, allowing them to possibly touch. 

While the coronavirus altering the season can be viewed in a negative light, Olivia Levey stated that the new regulations may make the year more memorable. Being a part of the arts, specifically the fall drama, has brought the cast members closer together and each one of them has found a tight knit family. Lucas summed up the play as being a great mechanism for fostering connections: something which has been lacking in society due to coronavirus. Audiences should look forward to watching these three seniors perform Arsenic and Old Lace on the stage, or on a screen, on November 13th and 14th.