To Die For

Great Lakes Theater Fest's latest play boasts an impressive body count.

In the comedy Arsenic and Old Lace, drama critic Mortimer Brewster tells his fiancée, “Insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops.” He’s not kidding. His two spinster aunts offer poisoned cocktails to lonely bachelors. Then they bury the bodies in the basement. “They’re the craziest family on the block,” says Drew Barr, director of the Great Lakes Theater Festival’s production, now playing at the Ohio Theatre. “You can’t believe how seriously dysfunctional they are.”

In addition to the pair of murderous aunts, Mortimer also has two very loosely hinged brothers. One is a botched surgery victim who looks like Frankenstein’s Boris Karloff; the other thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt. Barr pretty much retains the play’s 1941 setting, but adds a few subtle, modern touches. “It’s a period piece that certainly alludes to the political and world situation [of the time],” he says. “But there’s a strong sense of America at work in the play. I’m trying to bring a little more of a present-day sensibility to the story. It’s funny but real.”
Sundays, 3 p.m.; Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. Starts: Sept. 23. Continues through Oct. 21, 2007