The student news site of Seven Lakes High School

The Torch

Student news website
of Seven Lakes High School
The student news site of Seven Lakes High School

The Torch

The student news site of Seven Lakes High School

The Torch

To Be [In]sane

Photo taken from the Studio VII Instagram page

Oftentimes when it comes to a murder mystery the murderer is the person you least expect– a charismatic businessman, a frail old lady, a seemingly innocent side character. This certainly rings true in Joseph Kesserlring’s classic black comedy Arsenic and Old Lace, recently brought to life by the talented actors of Studio VII Theater Co.

Unlike last year’s magical spring production of Cinderella, Arsenic and Old Lace shares a much more sinister narrative, offering a glimpse into the eccentric Brewster family whose members, aside from the protagonist Mortimer, seem to be the very opposite of sane.

“Typically you go to a high school play and you’re playing big, fantastical, characters like [in] our last play,” junior and actor for the part of the Reverend Dr. Harper, Nathan Song, said. “[However] this is a show very rooted in reality– we’re acting as actual people which has a lot more subtlety to it than big fantastical characters.”

Of course, this play could hardly be considered a murder mystery without a heavy dose of death, which is duly delivered when Mortimer discovers a dead body in the window seat, a product of his elderly aunt’s mission to put lonely, old men out of their misery by serving them a glass of their homemade poisoned wine.

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“[The play’s] a fun romp,” Vitor Jones Anicio, a freshman who plays the part of Mr. Whitherspoon, an insane asylum superintendent, said. “It’s 1941 Brooklyn [and] these old ladies [who] everyone loves named Abby and Martha kill people.”

However, the aunts are not the only Brewsters who dabble in murder, Jonathan Brewster, one of Mortimer’s brothers, is a convicted murder who, with the help of his friend and plastic surgeon, Dr. Einstein, attempts to hide the body of his latest victim in one of the conveniently dug graves in the cellar. However, this leads to much chaos when Teddy Brewster, his other brother and aunt’s unwitting accomplice who believes that he is Theodore Roosevelt goes to bury his aunt’s latest casualty in what he thinks is the Panama Canal.

 “My favorite part [of the play] was when Dr. Einstein and Jonathan Brewster bring the dead bodies to the window seats,” junior George Johannson who plays Mortimer said. “It’s a perfectly physical comedic scene, and it perfectly reflects the general [energy] of our show.”

From then the play haphazardly hurtles towards a dramatic conclusion, filled with police officers, arrests, inductions into insane asylums, and the promise of marriage between Mortimer and his fiancee Elaine Harper.

“It’s an old [play], [with] classic, edgy humor – almost on the borderline of not being able to be at school [but] still school appropriate,” Nathan Song said. “It’s great for teens.”

Although the actors surely put on a breathtaking performance, it would not have been possible without the hard work of the stage crew who toiled tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure that the play went on without a hitch.

“I call all the cues, the lights, [the] sound, and when everyone’s supposed to go,” stage manager and senior Valeria Reyes said. “There’s a lot of parts where [many] things happen all at once and [I have to] make sure that everything goes out on time so it doesn’t look bad on stage.”

About the Contributor
Natalie Guske
Natalie Guske, Editor in Chief
Natalie Guske is a senior and this is her third year on the Torch staff. This is her first year of being an editor and she is very excited to continue to learn and write the stories of her peers in this new role. Outside of newspaper Natalie plays trumpet in the band and is also a part of Miller Career Center’s education program. While enjoying her final year of high school so far, Natalie is looking forward to college and plans on pursuing a degree in elementary education. When she’s not at school or band practice, Natalie enjoys spending time with her friends and family as well as curling up with a good book and a tasty snack.