Arsenic and Old Lace at Lycoming College

Tonight I saw the 116th play I’ve seen onstage, Arsenic And Old Lace at Lycoming College. Since I keep a list of all the plays I’ve seen, I know this was also the 25th play I’ve seen. I vaguely remember a Community Theater League production years ago.

Lycoming College Theater productions have always been my favorite local productions because they select plays with some literary merit and create lavish sets. The set design for Arsenic And Old Lace was no exception. It was a two story set dominated by a fairly long staircase. Although the stage looked like a realistic Victorian house, the lighting made everything look a little more vivid than it should be. As realistic as theater can be, it always seems a little more vivid and alive.

There was one mishap in which an actress fell while trying to sit on an ottoman so a stagehand duck taped it to the stage during intermission. Another amusing mistake occurred when an actor reached up to adjust his gag after his hands were already supposed to be tied. These little incidents merely added to the comedy. For some strange reason, all the police officers were played by women.

Arsenic And Old Lace is a farce dating back to World War II. I’ve been reading a biography of the stage actress Eva Le Gallienne so the play invoked the theater of her era. Eva Le Gallienne was a very beautiful actress even for the 1920s and she was a real artist. I think I have fallen in love with her just from her photos and her artistic integrity. I found some audio recordings of her reading Baudelaire poems in French at

Fortunately my playwriting efforts are finally meeting with some success. I should have two staged readings in the next few months which will be videotaped. One staged reading will occur in New York City and the other will occur in Los Angeles. This sounds more impressive than it actually is though. Five plays out of 35 plays submitted were selected by the New York City theater company so the odds were pretty good. The Los Angeles staged reading is something I paid for because it was quite affordable. Still, that is the only encouragement I need. I had very modest goals for my 10 minute plays. Now I will need a new goal. I’m working on a full length play. I’ll have a dramaturge look at it at the very least.

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