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Critics Rave About ARSENIC AND OLD LACE

Two women stand pointing at one another from across a table; a young man sits between them, with his eyes wide.
Photo of Celeste Williams, Eric Gerard, and TayLar by Michael Brosilow.

The reviews are in! Arsenic and Old Lace is a hit with critics and audiences alike. Opening night on Saturday, September 10th was met with a packed house, an enthusiastic audience, and laughs all around. That positive response has only grown since then, with reviewers calling this production “extraordinary,” “an outstanding night of theatre,” “crazy fun,” and “impeccable.” 

People can’t get enough of the delightfully devious Brewster sisters! Come see what all the hype is about and get your tickets today. Arsenic and Old Lace runs until October 2nd.


“Eighty-three years from when it was first produced, the classic Arsenic and Old Lace still keeps us laughing. The spectacle of two maiden aunts (i.e., two old fussbudgets) killing off middle-aged and elderly men is as clever now as it was back in the day…The show is worth attending just to see the gorgeous multilevel set design by John Culbert. (It was so interesting listening to other members of the audience ooh and aah about the beauty of the set even before the show began.)…If you’ve only seen the movie before and never the play that preceded it, then you ought to see this production.”

Around the Town Chicago, 5 out of 5 stars


“It’s a faithful and lovingly detailed production of the play, cast with a mostly African American ensemble that genuinely seems to be having a blast…Under Ron OJ Parson’s direction, the play moves as it needs to between a bit of realism, heavy doses of screwball goofiness, some outright farce — the physical humor here is particularly effective — and a good comic scare or two.”

Chicago Sun-Times, 3.5 out of 4 stars


“What’s cool about this production is the chance to see so diverse a cast in a show that does not relegate the Black actors to minor roles nor oblige them to hold the burden of performing a story about racial strife and struggle that confronts an audience. Rather, the show offers a slew of fun roles in which these actors surely would not have been cast a generation ago. You can feel their sense of relief flowing in waves from the stage and the casting is a reminder of the rewards that come when a director goes in this direction.”

Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune, 3 out of 4 stars 


“Court Theatre’s Arsenic and Old Lace is a comical masterpiece…Parson is a master at bringing out the best within the characters and cast, and his love for theater is one reason he loves to go to the source of any production…Featuring a fantastic cast of A.C. Smith, Allen Gilmore, Allen D. Edge, Norm Boucher, Thomas J. Cox, returning to Court, along with first-timers Emma Jo Boyden, Matthew Lunt, and Guy Van Swearingen; the audience was treated to an outstanding night of theater.”

Let’s Play Theatrical Review, Highly Recommended


“Director Ron OJ Parson handles this multi-ring circus with the perfect light touch. The ensemble plays the text’s outlandishness as if it were ordinary behavior and couples it with superb bits of physical comedy.”

Chicago Reader, Reader Recommended


“The chemistry of the cast is so extraordinary that we completely buy that this is a truly close family. A dysfunctional family, to be sure, but family all the way. A family that you want to spend time with, you want to be a part of, despite its dark secrets. John Culbert’s set of their home appears so comfortable and welcoming, you want to move in…The proceedings are riotously fast-moving and hysterical, both the lines passing by at the perfect tempo and the physical comedic bits. It is astonishing how relevant, timely, funny and scary this eighty-one-year-old play remains when staged with such tender loving care.”

NewCity Stage, Recommended


“With its exceptional cast, stunning set and the galvanic direction of Ron OJ Parson (whose recent Chicago productions, including Two Trains Running, Relentless, and Pearl’s Rollin’ With the Blues, were all stellar), it is simply wildly insane big fun…To be sure, this grand-scale production knocks the stuffing out of an insanely wacky play. And it no doubt does the same to the mental and physical endurance of its seemingly exhaustion-proof cast…Each and every performance in this production is exceptional. And the manic energy required — both physical and mental — as well as the all-important timing and rapid-fire interaction in the show is impeccable..[it’s] an enduring farce that still makes laughter the ideal antidote to the often poisonous nature of human behavior.”

WTTW


“A true mansion of elegant decadence transported last night’s audience back to 1940’s Brooklyn at Court Theatre’s 2022/23 Season opener Arsenic and Old Lace. The lights went down, and the packed house began to giggle with delight and anticipation as if they knew they were soon to be reminded as to why Court Theatre so-deserved their recent 2022 Regional Theatre Tony Award. And they were right!…In true farcical fashion, Arsenic and Old Lace reveals outlandish truths, exposes unexpected identities, and packs perfectly-timed quirks and turns that trigger endless cackles of laughter…If you’re looking for a show with such excellent comic timing that you’ll find yourself reacting in the most merrily and embarrassing manner in public that you can remember, make your way to Court Theatre’s Arsenic and Old Lace.

Conversations with Ed Tracy


“Director Ron OJ Parson’s decision to envision the central Brewster family as a wealthy Black American family gives the play a modern twist…The ensemble clearly delights in the farce. TayLar and Williams have a delicious dynamic as Abby and Martha-the two are absolutely in cahoots and play off one another seamlessly.”

Broadway World


“Court’s tightly constructed and expertly played first act introduces us to the main characters: sisters Abby (TayLar) and Martha Brewster (Celeste Williams) – both charming here as the well-intentioned poisoners who pass out beef broth and arsenic with equal amounts of eccentric do-goodery. They are joined by the delightful Allen D. Edge, who steals every scene he is in as their nephew Teddy, a man who thinks he is President Theodore Roosevelt.”

Third Coast Review

Posted on September 16, 2022 in Productions

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