Black comedy plot gives young actors a chance to experiment

Strange: the Brewster family                                         Pictures: Jim Fitton
Strange: the Brewster family Pictures: Jim Fitton
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Arsenic and Old Lace

Actors’ Workshop, Halifax

Actor's Workshop production of Arsenic and Old Lace.'From the left, Jacob Hall Brown as Abby, Cameron Stott as Martha and Charlie Cornforth as Mortimer Brewster.

Actor's Workshop production of Arsenic and Old Lace.'From the left, Jacob Hall Brown as Abby, Cameron Stott as Martha and Charlie Cornforth as Mortimer Brewster.

By Adam Smith

It was great to be back with the Actors’ Workshop bunch once again viewing their latest offering.

A great theatrical vibe always seems to flood the place and the small but welcoming auditorium was yet again filled with audience, a real delight to see.

The play, a smash hit on Broadway, was written by Joseph Kesselring and follows the sinister operations of the frightfully strange and twisted Brewster family.

The material is very extreme and challenging for any group of actors to play, especially young and aspiring ones.

The opening night performance lacked the usual pace in places, which will improve as the week progresses but the eerie plot (which is a true black comedy) depends on the audience believing in its reality and this was the production’s biggest blemish.

Due to artistic decisions like cross-gender casting and using a mixture of accents within scenes characterisations at times upstaged the plot and became one’s prime focus.

I am not stating that my bugbears have anything to do with the performances of the actors on stage. The buck stops with the direction and ultimately the choice of material.

It did however provide a fitting platform for young actors to experiment with characterisation and there were some strong performances by individuals throughout the evening.

Arsenic and Old Lace runs at The Workshop in St James Street, Halifax until Saturday.

Tickets are available from The Workshop and details can be found on their website.