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Arsenic and Old Lace: A Play in Three Acts Paperback – January 1, 1969


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Dramatists Player Service, Inc.; First Edition edition (1969)
  • ISBN-10: 0822200651
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822200659
  • ASIN: B0019BS51K
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 5.2 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,136,748 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 34 customer reviews
If I could rate it a zero, I would!
stacy
It's a fast-paced play that has some great witty dialogue and unforgettable scenes.
tvtv3
Best Play Ever This is hilarious….my school did it for their play.
AmaboCorvumPlummumSemper

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By s_corpion on June 23, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It was hard to read this without thinking of the wonderful movie. In a nutshell it is a play about a family where mental illness (insanity) is rampant. One character thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt and is building the Panama canal in the cellar. Two characters think they are performing a charity by poisoning lonely elderly men which the Teddy Roosevelt character perceives to be victims of yellow fever and buries them in Panama canal locks. These characters are perceived by neighbors as kind and gentle souls. Another character is an escapee from a hospital for the criminally insane. It is understandable why the sane member of the family is afraid to get married. He finds out that he is not related by blood to this family. The play is wonderfully written. I found it disturbing that these kindly gentle elderly women were serial killers. It just goes to show things are not always what they appear. Also, torture was alluded to in the play. All in all a good read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on December 28, 2004
Format: Paperback
Although these words refer to Teddy Brewster in this hilarious play by Joseph Kesselring, they could have applied equally to most of the other members of the Brewster household. Teddy thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt, always "charging" upstairs when he is not in the basement digging "locks for the Panama Canal." His two elderly aunts, with whom he lives, also have their own bizarre secret, for which the hand-dug "locks" in the basement are employed to good effect.

Jonathan, Teddy's "disagreeable" brother, who disappeared many years ago, returns during the play with secrets of his own. With his face altered by plastic surgery, he is accompanied by Dr. Einstein, with whom he plans to set up an operating room in the house so the doctor can give new faces to criminals. The only normal person in the family is Mortimer, a drama critic who hates plays, engaged to marry Elaine, the innocent daughter of the minister next door. Mortimer is particularly upset by Jonathan's return--"the most detestable, vicious, venomous form of animal life I ever knew."

The frantic action, the ironies, the comic routines, and the dramatic surprises all center around two bodies, hidden at various times in the window seat of the living room, and the reactions to them by the various people within the household. The local police, friends of Aunt Abby and Aunt Martha, stop by to chat, have coffee, and protect these "sweet" old ladies, often at the worst possible moments, while Mortimer tries to decide what to do about his strange family and the bodies in the house.

Arsenic and Old Lace is such a strong play, with so many hilarious moments, that it is not surprising that this is a staple of local theaters and high school drama groups.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By tvtv3 TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 14, 2002
Format: Paperback
ARSENIC AND OLD LACE is one of the classics of American theatre. It's a fast-paced play that has some great witty dialogue and unforgettable scenes. The play was made famous by the Frank Capra directed movie starring Cary Grant and has been a staple of community theatres across the USA since then.
Though there is a lead character here (Mortimer) the show is really carried by the supporting cast; e.g. it doesn't work without a Teddy who actually believes he's Theodore Roosevelt.
There are some plays that most people find boring to read. ARSENIC AND OLD LACE isn't one of them and I recommend it to anyone.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 8, 1999
Format: Audio Cassette
Arsenic and Old Lace is a very original comedy. Very light hearted and funny. The characters each have their own quirks and idosyncrasies which makes each one of them enjoyable to follow through the unpredictable storyline.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on June 23, 2009
Format: Paperback
Although these words refer to Teddy Brewster in this hilarious play by Joseph Kesselring, they could have applied equally to most of the other members of the Brewster household. Teddy thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt, always "charging" upstairs when he is not in the basement digging "locks for the Panama Canal." His two elderly aunts, with whom he lives, also have their own bizarre secret, for which the hand-dug "locks" in the basement are employed to good effect.

Jonathan, Teddy's "disagreeable" brother, who disappeared many years ago, returns during the play with secrets of his own. With his face altered by plastic surgery, he is accompanied by Dr. Einstein, with whom he plans to set up an operating room in the house so the doctor can give new faces to criminals. The only normal person in the family is Mortimer, a drama critic who hates plays, engaged to marry Elaine, the innocent daughter of the minister next door. Mortimer is particularly upset by Jonathan's return--"the most detestable, vicious, venomous form of animal life I ever knew."

The frantic action, the ironies, the comic routines, and the dramatic surprises all center around two bodies, hidden at various times in the window seat of the living room, and the reactions to them by the various people within the household. The local police, friends of Aunt Abby and Aunt Martha, stop by to chat, have coffee, and protect these "sweet" old ladies, often at the worst possible moments, while Mortimer tries to decide what to do about his strange family and the bodies in the house.

Arsenic and Old Lace is such a strong play, with so many hilarious moments, that it is not surprising that this is a staple of local theaters and high school drama groups.
Read more ›
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