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Arsenic And Old Lace

Simi Suri

One has been observing for some time now, how Kolkata clubs enjoy putting together and presenting plays where their club members perform. Kolkata has always been reputed for its excellent standards of amateur theater and the Bengal Club presentation of “Arsenic and Old Lace” on 13th July was no exception. An ardent supporter of amateur theater, Preeti Roy produced the play.

The director, Sumit Ray, besides putting in a stellar performance, also had the challenging task of directing the play. Particularly daunting would have been the task of directing mostly senior members, as was the requirement of the cast. Getting them to memorize their dialogues, remember their cues and recall their entry and exit from the stage would have been quite interesting. Added to that was the prerequisite for a good comedy – perfect timing. But the entire cast, crew and support team were able to put the play together to perfection to the delight of the audience.

Reena Sen and Afroze Randerian as the two senior sisters, and Sumit Ray and Baishali Chatterjee Dutt as the young couple, put up a stellar performance. They were supported by Deepak Atal, Sudhir Chand, Arjun Nevada, Ankush Khanna, Adheep Gooptu and Vishal Kochar who gave equally commendable performances. It was hard to believe that some of them were on stage for the first time.

The story is about two elderly sisters who, while they appear seemingly normal, believe they are doing humanity a great service when they help old, lonely men without families to meet their end. This is done by giving them a glass of wine which is laced with arsenic and cyanide. They genuinely believe they are doing a noble deed and are helped by their young and able-bodied but mentally unstable nephew. This continues till a second nephew finds out what his aunts have been up to, and the play is about his desperate attempts to stop his aunts, save them from the law and continue to keep his relationship with his girlfriend whom he keeps trying to chase away, lest she too finds out the truth. With twelve corpses already buried in the cellar, what follows is a hilarious comedy of errors.