Hoban Troubadours stage 'Arsenic and Old Lace'Saturday, November 11, 2006 By Kathleen Davey and Andrew Licking
"But, of course there are 13 bodies in the basement, dear. Would you like to see them?" It is Mortimer Brewster's murderous aunt fondly talking to a policeman near the end of Act II of Arsenic and Old Lace. Fortunately Mortimer, played by junior Christian Lengyel, was able to convince the policemen, who spoke with fantastic Brooklyn accents, that his crazy aunts had fabricated the whole story. Unfortunately it wasn't true. The old aunts, played by seniors Sarah Kenny and Laurel Marshall, had been charitably putting lonely bachelors out of their misery for years. But they were responsible for only 12 of the bodies. The other one, "a foreigner" as Kenny disapprovingly called him, was a victim of their wayward nephew, Jonathan. His purpose was to turn his childhood home into a hospital and to bury one of his victims in the basement. Brewster discovers his aunts' secret the same night he proposed to his lovely next-door neighbor. He is frantically trying to protect them and the bachelors they keep trying to "help," while escaping his murderous brother and placating his confused fiancee. He is further hindered by his other lovable brother, the one responsible for burying the bodies in the basement. Teddy, played by junior Eric Krutel, thinks he is Theodore Roosevelt. He has the disruptive habit of blowing his horn to call a cabinet meeting, which disturbs the neighbors and brings in the police. The audience was full of laughter as it watched the play. The acting was superb; Lengyel's crazed and frenzied looks and attempts at controlling his insane family were enough to make anyone laugh. He worries that he too is destined for madness, but fortunately discovers that he is adopted. The audience also found it comedic when the spinster aunts' bustled across the floor while pumping their arms, or when they recalled the dead bachelors' religions, or the way they were oblivious to the wrongness of their actions. The cast had a wonderful chemistry. "We got along really well," Lengyl said. "The feeling of being on stage, the final bows and the applause were wonderful." The chemistry was apparent between him and his fiancee, who shared two kisses during the production. Jason Anderson, director of the Troubadours, chose the play because it is modern, American and fun. "They are tough characters to portray, but the cast, as always, gave 110 percent," he said. The play could not have gone on without the sound and lighting crew, the stage crew and the set-construction crew.