Distinctive amateur drama
in Northampton since 1932

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Arsenic and Old Lace
by Joseph Kesselring


Tue 18 - Sat 22 February 2014 at 7.30pm
The Playhouse Theatre, Clare Street, Northampton Map >



Abby Brewster Patricia Coleman
Martha Brewster
Mindy Robinson
Teddy Brewster Joe B. Humbled
Mortimer Brewster Matthew Fell
Elaine Harper Lisa Shepherd
Revd Dr Harper Owen Warr
Jonathon Brewster Ian Tuckley
Dr Einstein Barry Dougall
Officer O'Hara Alistair Way
Officer Brophy Peter Collins
Officer Klein Craig Macpherson
Lt Rooney David Chappell
Mr Gibbs David Chappell
Mr Witherspoon Kevin Pinks

Director Tamsyn Payne
Stage Manager Jo Molyneux
Assistant Stage Manager Jen Kenny
Productioin Design Emma Banks
Makeup Design Sherrilyn Reynolds
Bodies made by Lauren Hubbard, Jo Molyneux
Set Construction Mark Mortimer, Emma Banks
Costumes Emma Banks, Clare Brittain, The Works
Photography Ian Tuckley, Joe Brown
Publicity Kirsty Spence

This amateur production is presented by arrangement with Josef Weinberger Limited.

More images from Arsenic and Old Lace

Tamsyn Payne, director

A tall tale of mass murder, home surgery and elderberry wine.

The Brewster Sisters are two of the sweetest old ladies you could hope to meet, always working for charity and always on the look out for poor souls to help. Even if that means poisoning them and stashing the bodies under the stairs!

Helped along by a cast of misfits and the criminally insane, Arsenic & Old Lace is a fast-paced, vintage comedy with a killer punchline.

Joseph Kesselring's genre-defining play put black comedy back on the map when it was first presented in 1941.

Burns street studios maybe approaching arctic conditions but we are keeping our spirits up during rehearsals with a healthy dose of corpse lugging, strangulation and poisoning!

Things are progressing well, Mindy Robinson and Patricia Coleman falling with alarmingly little effort into the role of the murderous Brewster sisters. Matthew Fell is a ball of nervous energy asacMortimer; whilst we are not going exactly for Carey Grant's gurning interpretation we have some lovely double takes into the window seat.

lan Tuckley and Barry are a brilliant double act as sadistic gangster Jonathon Brewster and his sozzled side-kick Dr Einstein. One creative challenge was how to make the smooth angelic face of Mr Tuckley look like Boris Karloff (Karloff played the part in the original stage production, cue many gags about how he looks like him!) Make-up wiz Sherrilyn got to work with latex and sewing kit and the results are pretty horrifying. How we must suffer for our art eh? . . .

Supported by a brilliant cast of incompetent cops, sultry girls next door and elderly gents (a.k.a. prey), and an unmissable turn from Joe B. Humbled asTeddy Roosevelt . . . CHARGE!

Crack stage management team Jen Kenny and Jo Molyneux have an epic list of props to put together, including a rather impressive looking torture kit and Jo has added to her stage management duties with a bit of dead body making (Mr Spenalzo is a handsome devil).

I must say its a real treat to be able to rehearse with a working set in place, thanks to Mark Mortimer who did his best shoemaker's elf impersonation and put the whole thing up in one night!

This has been a shorter rehearsal period than I had for my three previous shows, and half of us have fallen prey to the seasonal maladies (me and Jo included) but we are still enjoying ourselves and the production is shaping up to be a very entertaining evening.

And what's more the gags still get the laughs even on the tenth hearing . . . A testimony to Joseph Kesselring‘s brilliantly dark writing.

I'm sure you will all be along to Clare Street to give us your support, after all it would be a terrible shame if something . . . Unfortunate were to happen...

Masque Theatre's production is directed by Tamsyn Payne, whose shows for the group include Les Liaisons Dangereuses (2007), Dying For It (2010) and Arabian Nights (2012). She last appeared on stage with Masque Theatre in The Beggar's Opera (2013)

Rob Davison

Would you believe, I had booked to see Arsenic And Old Lace on Friday night but as I was a bit under the weather, much to my disappointment, I had to cancel. Anyway, as luck would have it, I got a phone call from Rob Kendall to say there had been a cancellation on Saturday. Two seats were available and would I like them.

So, with my hair combed, off we set to Clare Street and, having got there, we sat down for what turned out to be one of the funniest plays I’ve seen in a long time.

From beginning to end, the play never failed to keep me smiling.

Patricia Coleman and Mindy Robinson were so convincing as the twisted sisters that l‘ll never look at another glass of elderberry wine again without thinking of them.

Joe B. Humbled, as the loopy brother digging for victory in the cellar, was a joy to watch. And
wasn’t Jonathan Brewster (Ian Tuckley) horrible?

The music; the projected titles and credits at the beginning; the well designed set; and even the notice, that floated mysteriously five foot above the floor in front of the auditorium doors, telling the audience to stay in their seats (when the curtain came down for a quick scene change): all made for a lively evening with never a dull moment.

A bit of departure for Matthew Fell (playing Mortimer Brewster) in a rille, full of comic situations, which he played very convincingly, with newcomer Lisa Shepherd (Elaine Harper) complementing him perfectly as the confused fiancé unknow‐ ingly thrown into a web of murder and mayhem.

But it wasn't just the actors l‘ve mentioned. The whole cast brought to life a play full of surprises and fun and their enthusiasm and enjoyment certainly came across to the audience. All in all, to everyone involved, I’d say it paid off.

A big thank you for a great night out. Looking forward to the next production.

Page last updated: 26/03/2014 Masque Theatre © 2014

A scene from Arsenic and Old Lace

Photo by Joe Brown