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Arsenic and Old Lace - Acting Edition (Acting Edition for Theater Productions)

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  23,378 ratings  ·  170 reviews
Paperback, 96 pages
Published October 1st 1944 by Dramatists Play Service, Inc. (first published 1939)
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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 ·  23,378 ratings  ·  170 reviews


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Carol
Jan 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The last couple of years, I've made an effort to fit in a few classic plays between novels and am still amazed at how much I enjoy them. Of the 15 or so I've read, I do believe ARSENIC AND OLD LACE has taken over first place on my favorites list.

The old Brewster ladies are really a hoot! Home is Brooklyn and Martha and Abby are set in their ways with their cadaverous routines, but just as sweet as can be (hehehe) as they welcome prospective lodgers in for a glass of their own special blend of

...more
Rebecca McNutt
Who doesn't love Arsenic and Old Lace? The classic black-and-white black comedy film is one of the strangest and funniest, and this book gives readers the whole story in a play format so that they can experience it away from the big screen as well.
Kat
Basic plot: two little old ladies while away their golden years by taking care of their nephew Teddy and actively pursuing their charity work. Never mind that Teddy thinks he's Teddy Roosevelt and their charity work consists of poisoning little old men.

This is one of the most wonderful bits of dark humor I've ever read. It's laugh-out-loud funny (even when just reading it) and still manages to be creepy. Oh the irony, oh the death, oh the references to Boris Karloff...

I just got done reading
...more
Tina Rae
Jun 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE.
So I thought this movie was just great but the play is EVEN BETTER. Um, how does that work? HOW ARE THEY BOTH SO UNBELIEVABLY GOOD?! Ugh. So in love. Honestly, this is one of the most entertaining and fantastic stories I've ever had the chance to read/see. I wish I could've seen the original theatre version since I'm sure Boris Karloff as Jonathan was nothing short of perfect.

Honestly, plays are, like, my favorite thing in the world. They are just so easy to read and so, so wonderful. This is
...more
Suvi
ABBY. His name's Hoskins - Adam Hoskins. That's really all I know about him - except that he's a Methodist.
MORTIMER. That's all you know about him? Well, what's he doing here? What happened to him?
MARTHA. He died.
MORTIMER. Aunt Martha, men don't just get into window seats and die.
ABBY. (Silly boy.) No, he died first.
MORTIMER. Well, how?
ABBY. Oh, Mortimer, don't be so inquisitive. The gentleman died because he drank some wine with poison in it.
MORTIMER. How did the poison get in the wine?
MARTHA.
...more
Lesle
Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019
Read this early this morning, as I could not sleep.

This is a play about Martha and Abby two rich ladies that live beside a Cemetery, who are exceeding kind and thoughtful. They doubt their Charity work and slightly problematic habit of killing off suffering old lonely men, and the use Elderberry Wine, will be an issue as they have 11 more in the basement! Finally things go haywire and the work must come to an end.

You might want to pass on the glass of Elderberry Wine if it is ever offered to
...more
Samantha
Dec 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of the Common Core State Standards is to look at irony and understatement. This play is a great way to acquaint students with those literary techniques. One of my classes hated the play, but the other class got really into it and began acting it out. When I would tell them we were going to stop, they would ask to read JUST ONE MORE PAGE! It was a good time. The play is cute and funny. Abby and Martha are wonderful characters.
Xio
May 07, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: booksfrommy20s
This is such a wonderful idea for a couple of assasins to play with.

They did a great job with the film also.
Shawn Deal
Jun 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic, plays
One of the greatest comedies ever written which spawned one of the greatest comedy movies ever made. This is the great tale of Abby and Martha Brewster, and the various problems they have with their three nephews: Teddy, Johnathon, and Mortimer. A mad cap play where nothing is as it seems. A Pulitzer Prize winner.
Dakota
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This play was very enjoyable. Its humor is dark, but that made it even more hilarious. The irony and the characters small awareness makes it that much better. It is one of the better plays that I have read and it was one of the funniest too. If you like reading plays, I recommend giving this one a read.
Nancy
Written when plays were simple yet humorous (1941).
Julie Stafford
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I ever get a chance to preform this play, I want to be Aunt Abby.
Realini
Oct 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Arsenic and Old Lace by Joseph Kesselring
A family of lunatics goes on a rampage killing 24 people between them. And they call it a comedy.
Actually, rated among the best ever…

A horror comedy might be a way to describe this crime story with plenty of laughs.
A family of lunatics goes on a rampage killing 24 people between them.
How can you turn this into a comedy?
It can’t be easy, but Frank Capra, with the help of Cary Grant has turned this into one of the best comedy films ever made, on some lists
...more
Xmusicsnobx
A charming and tasteful little play. Unfortunately, the plot gets stretched out too thin. Not enough content to last as long as it does. By the end, its lost a lot of its original gusto. But besides that, it's pretty entertaining and sometimes funny.
Tortla
Oct 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: awesome people
This is a play. An awesome play. I have no idea when I read this, but I remember it's still good readin' even though it's supposed to be acted out. I shan't destroy the awesome plot for you, but even if I did you'd still be able to experience the awesome. And I think I've seen parts of the movie....I'm not sure though. Yay!
Kelly
Nov 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-reads
The events in this play are hilarious and appalling at the same time. If you've never thought two old ladies were capable of murder, then apparently you've never experienced this play. Kick back with a cup of coffee or tea, never the wine, and enjoy.
Catherine DiCristofaro
One of my favorite plays of all time - funny, just a little creepy and still fun even many years after it was written.
Brent
Dec 22, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
I played Teddy Brewster in Macalaster College in Fall 1983, the last time I ever acted in public! Big fun.
Jesse Roth
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Delightfully entertaining:)
Susan
Jul 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book is more enjoyable than the movie!
Michelle
Jul 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very funny! I can't wait to see the movie now.
Robin Sencenbach Ferguson
Mortimer: You can't do things like that. I don't know how to explain this to you, but it's not only against the law. It's wrong! It's not a nice thing to do...what I mean is--well, this has developed into a very bad habit.

Abby: We don't try to stop you from doing things you like to do.


A delightfully dark comedy, Arsenic and Old Lace has everything you could ask for--sweet, murderous old ladies, more funny moving dead body jokes than Weekend at Bernie's, and a pleasantly insane, bugle-playing
...more
Dakota
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This play/ movie was pretty funny. like if kids these days watched this without learning about it in school probably would laugh because they wouldn't understand the humor. For the time period back then that kind of humor was hilarious with the aunts killing a bunch of old men and think the old men are in hell because they are all alone and depressed with no family left and all that. That was considered hilarious back then because they did it and didn't think anything was wrong with it like when ...more
Michael
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In my class we were assigned to read/act out the play Arsenic and old lace. At first I didn't really like the play at all, but when Jonathan was first introduced I actually wanted to finally read my lines assigned to me in class. Every second I was metaphorically on the edge of my seat when Mortimer was explaining a play to Einstein and Jonathan was slowly coming up behind Mortimer and going for the curtain cord to tie him up. I hope my small review makes you want to try and read this ...more
Kayleigh Clancy
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this was a funny book with a dark humor comedy sense. The actors made the characters funny and dumb at sometimes and its a really really funny play. I didnt really understand all the concept by reading the play, but watching it, i understood it and loved it. i laughed so much. espicially about the Boris Karloff part and how everyone thinks that the grandmothers are innocent, and how Teddy thinks that he is Teddy Roosevelt and thinks the cellar is the panama canal.
Michael McGinnity
Dec 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Funny, strange, and a bit dark, Arsenic and Old Lace was introduced to me through the movie. It's still one of my favorite dark comedies, and the play it was based off of holds up to the wonderful movie.[return]Fun fact. The play's Johnny was played by Boris Karloff, which makes part of the play even more funny.
Nahid Ali
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very wonderful plot with cleverly delineated characters. The author has a great talent mixing suspense with comedy, creating an amazing comic thriller. One of the most astonishing aspects of the play is the coolness and simplicity with which the two aunts think and behave. These women are very chilling and very funny at the same time.
Yaaresse
Read this as a kid and loved it. Such dark humor!
------------
Rating childhood reads strictly by my memory of how much I enjoyed them at first read. Obviously that could be drastically different if I read them today. (Then again, some of them might just hold up pretty well.)
Adrian
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
Dragged a bit in the middle but the final act made up for it - especially the scene with one character describing the events of a bad play while it was happening around him. Not much explanation of why everyone was so homicidal but nice high farce.
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