By Sarah Pride
Patrick Henry College
Two old ladies poison lonely old men and bury them in their basement. Their nephew, Mortimer Brewster, must deal with their murderous habits and the hijinks of his other insane relatives while trying to decide whether to marry the girl he loves. So proceeds the play Arsenic and Old Lace, written by American playwright Joseph Kesselring and now to be directed at Patrick Henry College by senior Emily Thomson and her co-director, Benjamin Guido. Shows are slated to run at PHC from November 12 to 15. Tickets are available from the PHC Bookstore (540-338-8804), and the play begins at 7pm each night.
“It’s sort of a horrifying comedy,” sums up Thomson. “It’s about two old ladies who have a confused sense of right and wrong.”
The popular play has also been adapted to a movie, which was directed by Frank Capra in 1944. Thomson says that those who know and love the movie version “will enjoy the play, but they will be surprised—the ending is a little different.” She and Guido have selected a small, 14-member cast and are recruiting crew members.
This performance of Arsenic and Old Lace will mark the eighth anniversary of Eden Troupe, a drama group completely invented and maintained by Patrick Henry College students. Each semester, potential directors “pitch” their ideas to the Eden Troupe administrative Board, which consists of at least one member from each class currently enrolled at PHC. If accepted, directors are responsible for recruiting their extensive team of volunteers. A significant percentage of students, irrespective of major, are involved in play production.
Thomson “pitched” three plays to the Board last spring. “I said, these are plays that are my style—funny, basically,” she grins. They selected Arsenic and Old Lace, and Thomson committed to a rollercoaster semester of early-morning rehearsals. Guido joined the directorial team, which, says Thomson, “will provide a nice balance. We complement each other well.”
On a more general scale, although Arsenic offers more entertainment than it does weighty moral food, Thomson vocalizes a post-graduation vision for the role of drama in the local church.
“I have noticed in church that there used to be lots of Christmas plays and such—now they are out of style,” she muses. “I think it’s good to pour your heart into an artistic endeavor as a form of worship.”
Please consider joining the PHC community to enjoy Arsenic and Old Lace.