Arsenic and Old Lace

Though the Guthrie's 2010-11 season has already featured an abundance of comedic works, none of those previous productions can boast of the macabre humor that courses through Arsenic and Old Lace. Last staged by the Guthrie in 1975, this Joe Dowling-directed revival welcomes back the notorious Abby and Martha Brewster, spinster sisters whose outward kindliness is merely a front for nefarious schemes involving the befriending of lonely old men—to be poisoned with arsenic-laced wine. Such lunacy isn't limited to the sisters, however, as demonstrated by one nephew who believes himself to be Teddy Roosevelt, another nephew who takes delight in murderous impulses, and a cellar that is swiftly running out of space for burying bodies. Playwright Joseph Kesselring had originally intended the play to be a drama, but was convinced by a friend that gallows humor could be achieved simply by embracing the morbidity. Though slightly dated by period references, the work has endured for 70 years as a delightfully ghoulish farce. As expected, the Guthrie cast is stocked with exceptional performers, including the teaming of local favorite Sally Wingert with Broadway veteran Kristine Nielson as the Brewster sisters. With so much promise for maniacal mirth, audiences will likely be gratified to see Arsenic and Old Lace unearthed. (Photo by Michal Daniel)
Tuesdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, 1 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: April 9. Continues through June 5, 2011

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