Arsenic and Old Lace

SBBN-08-01-14 Eyemouth Variety Group rehearse Arsenic and Old Lace
SBBN-08-01-14 Eyemouth Variety Group rehearse Arsenic and Old Lace

Eyemouth Variety Group are encouraging you to hurry up and get your tickets for their production of a classic caper, ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’.

EVG’s Joan Blatchley said of their choice to kick off 2015 with the pitch black farce: “We had decided not to do a musical, so it is something a little bit different for our actors, although of course director Pauline Grieve has a wealth of experience.

“It’s been quite an eye opener for us all,” she told The Berwickshire.

The classic play - filmed in 1944 with Cary Grant starring - takes place in the genteel home of the two Brewster sisters, Abby and Martha (Maureen Gillie and Christine Henderson), who appear to live quietly in New York with their nephew Teddy (Jack Ritchie).

It is only upon the arrival of their other nephew, Mortimer, played by Steve Sadler, who visits his girlfriend Elaine (Andrea Thacker) next door, that the truth is revealed.

The nice sisters are found to have been “helping lonely men” with a cocktail of elderberry wine, arsenic, strychnine “and just a pinch of cyanide.”

Meanwhile, Teddy, under the insane delusion that he is Theodore Roosevelt, has been unwittingly helping get rid of the bodies, as he has been digging up the basement in the belief that he was working on the Panama Canal.

Throwing in a love affair, an unwanted family member and plenty of policemen and the black comedy is an intoxicating brew.

Plenty of other ‘well-kent’ faces will make an appearance onstage as well, including Raymond Williams, Jim Watt, Kenny Combe, Eddie Stewart, Jonathon Combe, Craig Rosie, Bill Shardlow and Rory Fairbairn.

Joan says that the grave scenes , crucial in a very fast-talking, quick-draw farce, are dealt with in a particularly interesting way.

“It’s all done with stage tech,” she said, “but you’ll have to watch to see exactly how. I’m not giving away any trade secrets!”

And as if rehearsing one madcap stage caper weren’t enough, the Eyemouth Variety Group members found themselves working on three different projects at once!

“At one point recently,” says Joan, “ we were running our children’s pantomime, while rehearsing for ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’.

“And we also had ‘Nunsense’, our show for later in the year, being worked on as well.”

‘Nunsense’ tells the musical story of a group of nuns who fall prey to a similar crime to that of the Brewster sisters: they find themselves having to raise funds for 50 burials after their cook accidentally poisons their colleagues.

“It was quite chaotic, as you an imagine!” says Joan. “But it has worked out well for us, because between the two productions , we have managed to get everybody onstage, in one show or the other.”

‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ will be performed in the Old Eyemouth High School, on Thursday, January 15 and Friday, January 16 from 7.30pm.

The play is described as being suitable for those aged 12 and over and tickets are on sale now from Occasions, Market Place, Eyemouth, priced at £9 for adults and £7 for children.

Joan adds: “There will be a bar for the sale of wine and tea will also be available.

“However we promise the elderberry wine will stay firmly on the stage!!