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Wakefield School Brings Enthusiasm And Grace to 'Arsenic and Old Lace'

Liz Kline, a senior at Woodbridge High School, reviews Wakefield's production of "Arsenic and Old Lace."

Wakefield's production of "Arsenic and Old Lace" includes David Muss, Rachel Christian-Fenwick, Gracie Morrison, Andrew Clubb, Chris Stone, Gabby Vazzana, Lexie Gaines-Smith, Thomas Hodd, Anne Marie Glen, Ellerie Williamson, Patrick Penderville, Lilly Tolley and Mike Byrne. (Courtesy Of Tutt Stapp-harris)

What happens when an alcoholic surgeon, two crazy spinsters, 24 bodies and poisoned elderberry wine cross paths? "Arsenic and Old Lace."

Students at Wakefield School tackled this twisted plot with the grace and enthusiasm of well-versed professionals.

The story takes place in Brooklyn. Mortimer Brewster (Chris Stone) has to decide what to do with his homicidal aunts (Gracie Morrison and Rachel Christian-Fenwick), his deranged younger brother, who believes he is Teddy Roosevelt (David Muss) and his murderous older brother (Andrew Clubb), while maintaining his relationship with girlfriend Elaine (Gabby Vazzana) and his job as a theater critic.

The plot is enriched by the constant interference of various police officers (Lilly Tolley, Patrick Penderville, Lexie Gaines-Smith and Anne Marie Glen) and a drunken German doctor (Mike Byrne).

The play resolves itself in a way that left the entire audience flabbergasted and rolling in laughter.

Stone was a standout performer as Mortimer, succeeding not only in his comic timing and double-take sequences but also in his connection with every other performer. Morrison and Christian-Fenwick played well off each other as the two spinster sisters and found their rhythm by the second act. The members of the police force took on their roles with the dignity of officers and maintained their characterizations throughout.

Despite a few awkward lighting shifts, the stage technicians' work on the whole enhanced the performance. The run crew performed its tasks smoothly and discreetly during quick scene changes and blackouts. Although the production was staged in the school's gym, the burnt-orange flats and major set pieces helped create a theatrical atmosphere. The cast wasn't troubled at all by being so close to the audience.

Because of its turbulent plot, "Arsenic and Old Lace" is difficult to stage. The cast and crew at Wakefield rose to the occasion and produced an enjoyable rendition.

By Washington Post Editors  |  November 10, 2008; 9:53 AM ET
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