Variety’s new frills on Old Lace

Eyemouth Variety Group stage 'Arsenic and Old Lace'
Eyemouth Variety Group stage 'Arsenic and Old Lace'

Eyemouth Variety Group got away with murder - many times over - this week in the most genteel of ways with their production of Arsenic and Old Lace.

The show was carried with real grace and an acid wit by the two stars, Christine Henderson and Maureen Gillie, who played the murderous Brewster sisters, Martha and Abby, the original ‘lady killers’.

The pair toed the fine line between murder and nurture as they devoted themselves to escorting their “gentleman” lodgers off this mortal coil .

You may have thought nobody could act like Cary Grant - the man himself said he didn’t even know how he did it - but Steve Sadler gave it a good shot as the ladies’ favourite nephew, Mortimer, played by Grant in the film version.

Andrea Thacker as love interest Elaine Harper took to the American accent with the most ease, and was a good foil to the increasingly bewildered Mortimer.

Young Jack Ritchie was always on hand to provide some chaos as Teddy Brewster, who believed he was president Teddy Roosevelt, charging into battle every time he went upstairs and whose ‘Panama Canal’ digging in the basement provides his maiden aunts with their graves.

It wasn’t all homespun homicide, though - the police did get involved. Even if that meant Officer O’Hara (Bill Shardlow) detailing his planned autobiographical play all night. Brophy, Klein and Lieutenant Rooney (Jim Watt, Kenny Combe and Raymond Williams, who also doubled as Dr Harper) meanwhile, only caught one out of four murderers, and ignored the bodies in the cellar through disbelief.

Menace was supplied in spadefuls by Jonathon Combe as the psychotic Jonathan Brewster and his sidekick Dr Einstein (not that one!) played by Craig Rosie.

The weird sisters kept us laughing in the dark all the way to the end, even conspiring to ‘help’ the manager of the asylum that Teddy had been sent to.

The final glimpse the audience got of them, serving their spiked drinks once more, this time to Mr Witherspoon, played by Rory Fairbairn, was priceless.

Producers Pauline Grieve and Gilly Peakman kept the action tight and the script rattled along, leaving the audience perversely wishing that we might get to spend just a little more time in the Brewsters’ house and its fine cellar.