Bigfork Community Players stage ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’

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Mortimer Brewster and his aunts rehearse “Arsenic and Old Lace.” Pictured left to right are cast members Gina Benesh, Ethan Waltman and Teri Terrific.

The Bigfork Community Players will present Joseph Kesselring’s classic black comedy “Arsenic and Old Lace” at the Bigfork Center for the Performing Arts Friday through Sunday.

Comedy often gets its energy by making light of some unpleasant or annoying aspect of life. A black comedy goes deep in this direction by poking fun at a topic that would otherwise be considered morbid or macabre. “Arsenic and Old Lace” tells a story about a socially off-center family whose members, in doing what seems natural and proper to them, bring about the demise of a number of victims.

As the story unfolds, we learn that Mortimer Brewster is in love, but afraid to get married because his family is troubled and he thinks it’s in his genes. His delusional brother, who believes he’s “Teddy Roosevelt,” digs locks for the Panama Canal in the basement. His two loving aunts have been murdering lonely men by the dozen, and burying them in the locks. And his brother, who’s been working for the Chicago Mob, is psychopathic, living in the house again, and determined to murder him. Joining this family, Mortimer feels, may be too much to ask of a proper girl, like Elaine.

“Laughing at death is kind of a guilty pleasure,” Director Michele Shapero said. “But this comedy is a timeless classic. Audiences have been enjoying the guilt for 80 years now.”

“Arsenic and Old Lace” plays at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 22 and 23; and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 23 and 24. Tickets are available at Bigfork Drug, the Pocketstone Cafe, Kalispell Grand Hotel, and at the door at the Bigfork Performing Arts Center. Adult tickets are $15, students/seniors are $10, and children under 12 are $5.

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