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Annandale High School Arsenic and Old Lace

By • Dec 5th, 2011 • Category: Cappies

The last thing you expect to find in the house of two kindly old ladies, is a dead body stashed in a window cabinet. Or 11 more bodies buried in the basement for that matter. Annandale High School’s riveting performance or Arsenic and Old Lace shows just what happens in a murder house filled with the quirkiest of characters.

Arsenic and Old Lace is an American play, written by Joseph Kesselring in 1939. It tells the tale of a pair of aunts who live together and have made a habit of poisoning lonely elderly gentlemen. Meanwhile, their nephews, each with their own oddities, deal with their own problems, which eventually become entwined with their aunts’ schemes.

Annandale’s theater department took this comedy and added modern day references to Stephen King and Betty White, while maintaining the original feel of this hilarious and dark play. In addition, little touches such as real liquid spilling out a glass made the show all the more believable. During one wildly amusing scene, all the stage lights but one were turned off, and mischief was let loose. Characters crept, and tripped around in the dark each with his own twisted motives.

Abby Brewster, one of the aunts, played by Laura Hackfeld had a high pitched giggle and flounced and bounced across the stage throughout the entire show. Martha, the other aunt, was portrayed by Gwen Levey. She glided across the stage with undeniable flair, and spoke with a realistic and consistent accent. Both aunts were cheerful, bubbly, and constantly forcing us to question how such sweet old ladies could be killers.

Teddy Brewster, the aunts’ nephew, was played by Andy Riddle. Convinced that he is President Roosevelt, Teddy continually raced up the stairs with a loud “chaaaarge!” People often humored him, for example, even the local police officers saluted him and address him as “Mr. President.” Riddle’s energetic stage presence and loud trumpet blasting, added additional humor, and kept everyone in the Brewster neighborhood awake.

Mortimer, the aunts’ cynical playwright of a nephew, was played by Max Talley. His delayed reaction when he discovered a body was priceless, as he struggled to process what was happening. Taking the direct approach, he exclaimed “there’s a body in the window seat!” only to have his aunts reply with a delighted giggle, “oh yes dear! We know!” Talley’s facial expressions and jumpy disposition demonstrated his utter disbelief in the events that transpired throughout the show.

Each aunt wore flowery, and busy patterned dresses that matched their scatterbrained minds. In addition, in one scene, they both emerged wearing ornate funeral clothing. The set was incredibly visually appealing. It was covered with ornate plates, antique picture frames, embroidered cushions, flowered and yellowing wallpaper, a large grand staircase,and a shining grandfather clock.

Annandale’s Arsenic and Old Lace erupted with hysterical characters from the moment the curtain opened. It made living in a murderer’s house seem actually appealing… well, almost.

by Olivia Meyer of Oakton High School

Photo Gallery

Laura Hackfeld and Gwen Levey Laura Hackfeld, Gwen Levey, Alex Lash
Laura Hackfeld and Gwen Levey
Laura Hackfeld, Gwen Levey, Alex Lash
Steven Aderton, Max Talley,Cody Stewart Betsy Cohan-Lawson, Debbie Aderton, Andy Riddle
Steven Aderton, Max Talley,Cody Stewart
Betsy Cohan-Lawson, Debbie Aderton, Andy Riddle
Gwen Levey, Max Talley, Laura Hackfeld, Alex Lash
Gwen Levey, Max Talley, Laura Hackfeld, Alex Lash

Photos by Giorgi Barker

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