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Blackwell Playhouse1
Average Rating Given : 3.00000
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REVIEWS

Arsenic and Old Lace, by Joseph Kesselring
"ARSENIC" Leaves a Bad Taste.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
3.0
No offense to RANDOM REVEIWER but did you see the same play at Blackwell Playhouse that I did ????? Far from being a riot it was more like a train wreck--one that went on for what seemed like three hours. While some things were good about the production --I must admit I have seen better "ARSENIC AND OLD LACE" done by high schoolers. Perhaps the director(s) are to blame for the complete lack of imagination or original thought in the whole proceedings. I could only imagine that the blocking came from the acting edition of the script because very little of the movement made any sense. Characters seemed to wander aimlessly about the stage(especially the two Aunts). Perhaps the mantle of being director and the lead actor is to expalin Kevin Tillery's completely over the top rendering of Mortimer. He screamed, and jumped about the stage often speaking over the lines of the other actors. This boy had more mugs than a Starbuck's Coffee Shop. I know Kesselring intended the comedy to be broad but Tillery was embarrasing to watch. The two Aunts (Bruce and Holzman) were sweet and dottering---while they broke no new ground with thier unique characterization they were mostly (except for forgotten lines) enjoyable.
Joey Chochran (with the plumb role of Teddy)was funny and sweet despite an accent that was far, far south of Brooklyn. Becky Deavers as Elaine Harper did provide a unique take on the Pastor's daughter with her sexed up portrayal--but at least she brought something new to the play.
Now to say something positive. The backbone of the entire play rests on the capable shouldrers of Lee Sanders (Jonathan Brewster) and his comic sidekick Dr. Einstein (Glann Nadel). Nadel is a Blackwell favorite and I've seen all his schtick time and again--however he plays a charming little old man if not an orginal one. Sanders as the Karloff looking Jonathan was understated (take note Tillery) and managed to bring humor to a menacing role. Kudos also to his makeup artist who scarred him enough to be believable but not so much as to detract from his fine acting.
Fially--we all know the cliche about no small parts---well two actors in particular got things so right I want to mention them sepparately. As two bumbling policemen: Stephen Sisson's Officer Brophy and Steve Lincoln's Lt. Rooney are simply amazing to watch. Sharing not more than 15 minutes of stage time between them they provide a much needed comic boost to the end of the play.
Sisson's clueless but sweet Officer Brophy is a sort Brooklyn "Barney Fife" to Lincoln's New York styled "Andy Griffith". Their scene together near the end of the play provides a much needed boost to the long second act. Lincoln's spit soaked (usually aimed at Sisson's face) is a scream and a thoroughly original portrayal.
Lastly, the set and set dressing was lovely and period (hardly ever seen in community theatre and almost never at Blackwell).
It's kind of hard to mess up a great American play like ARSENIC AND OLD LACE but somehow Tillery and most of his cast managed to.
Better luck next time !!!!!!


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