Daily Archives: January 19, 2016

Read Harder: Vol. 1

This year, I plan on chronicling my adventures with Book Riot’s 2016 Read Harder Challenge.

Read a play

I thought, for a hot second, about re-reading something from my high school English classes. But then I remembered that I hated Hedda Gabler, and while I love Shakespeare, I just didn’t have it in me. I wanted something short and funny. Arsenic and Old Lace, maybe?

Written in 1939 by Joseph Kesselring, it opened in 1941 and ran for 1,444 performances. This dark comedy is centered around the Brewster family — our hero Mortimer, his two brothers and their spinster aunts. And aside from Mortimer, they’re all insane.

Teddy believes he is Panama Canal-era Theordore Roosevelt, digging locks in the basement. Jonathan has just had surgery to conceal his identity (he now looks like Boris Karloff and was, in fact, played by Karloff on stage) and is on the run with his alcoholic doctor. The dear, sweet aunts have taken to murdering elderly gentlemen by offering them a bit of company and a glass of home-made elderberry wine laced with arsenic, strychnine, and “just a pinch” of cyanide. Poor Mortimer just wants to get married.

If farce and dark comedy is your jam, I can’t recommend this enough. And check out the movie, directed by Frank Capra; it stars Cary Grant as Mortimer and Peter Lorre as the surgeon, Dr. Einstein. I saw it as a kid and I think it informed my sense of humor as much as any Muppets or Mel Brooks movie.

— Jess

 

 

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