Arsenic & old lace

Programming / Play

All this because of my hairdresser.

She was there, we were there, all village girls, all caught up in the news of the day, and did you know that the kid from the bakery is going to music school now?
What is the number of the bus to the high school? Are you sure? I’ve never seen this stop… next to the pharmacy? which one? next to Babou, oh yes – Babou, you can look everywhere, it’s a store that closed at least four years ago.

And there, while the hairdresser undertook to recover my hair transformed into straw, suddenly, I don’t know why, I had the terrible sensation to be transformed into Miss Marple.

Lucky for me – I was still well on my way to describing the bus stop for high school – I was able to stop the scissors carnage before I thought I was Yul Brynner -who by the way was quite handsome, but I don’t want to be a handsome man – how could I pull off that one?

But this incredible feeling of the village and us doing our old ladies commenting on the young people’s lives – it was a shock to me.

So here I am, chewing on my favorite old wives’ tales – and that’s how I ended up tonight proposing to put this wonderful play back on stage: Arsenic and old lace.

As a story of old ladies completely adorable, completely monstrous, of an appalling candor, of a hallucinating indifference – this story is a masterpiece.

I think you know this story –
or rather: and
It has been passed on to the whole world thanks to a film. A very, very, good movie.

The problem with movies, compared to novels – and this is a bit strange and very ungrateful – is that they sink into oblivion with astonishing rapidity.
It’s so easy to criticize a film because it’s in black and white. Because the costumes, the accents, the sets have become old.
For a novel, nothing like that, it’s our imaginations that work.
But a film…

So what is sad for some becomes an opportunity for others.

As I know very well that films are very quickly forgotten – and that some films tell extravagant, great, terrifying stories and all that…. – so I can safely think about bringing them back to life by putting them back on a stage.

Arsenic and Old Lace is initially a play: there are no new scenic arrangements to find, no parts of the story to rewrite so that everything fits on a stage.
For the time being, you just have to take the text – a troupe of actors – and that’s it … pleasure and terror guaranteed.

As for Miss Marple taking hold of me … I’m not at the point of tending my rose bushes yet – but … I’ll watch for the transformation.
And as much as I love reading Agatha Christie, I’m always a little disappointed by the adaptations – even if some are very good, I don’t know why, I miss a little something.
So I couldn’t keep this terrifying lady for a stint on the stage. Whereas Aunt Abby and Aunt Martha, they would be sold out.

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Featured Image : Jean Adair & Josephine Hull – Arsenic and Old Lace – by Frank Capra – 1944 – from Joseph Kesselring’s play.

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