The Brewster sisters, played by Rebecca Cusack and Jasmin ReesJohannes Hjorth

When Arsenic and Old Lace opened on Broadway 75 years ago, the New York Times described it as "so funny that none of us will ever forget it". After all, a production centred on two elderly ladies’ love for murdering innocent old men has significant potential to generate several belly laughs. The Pembroke Players production stands up to the New York Times review. They delivered a brilliant night of entertainment, proving Kesselring’s play remains a classic.

To promote the play, the Pembroke Players released a mediocre trailer introducing the Brewster sisters, played by Rebecca Cusack and Jasmin Rees. You got the impression the trailer was made in a rush. The sisters talk over each other and an opportunity to show off Dr Einstein’s (Henry Wilkinson) hilarious German accent is missed. Fortunately, the play didn’t disappoint. It was fluid with no awkward gaps and the comic timing was almost always spot on. I won’t give the plot away but the laughter was almost as loud as Teddy’s trumpet.

Cusack and Rees were perfectly suited in their roles, portraying the Brewster sisters with the gentility that makes their horrific hobby more frightening. The chemistry between the sisters was great to watch. Both Cusack and Rees commanded the stage and maintained their enthusiasm throughout. The other murderous duo, Jonathan Brewster (Jerome Burelbach) and Dr Einstein (Henry Wilkinson), gave impressive performances too. I thought Burelbach was creepy as soon as he walked on stage. Wilkinson, on the other hand, came across as a ‘nice’ murderer, contrasting with Burelbach’s nastiness perfectly. Their comic relationship was a highlight of the play. Aurélien Guéroult’s portrayal of Mortimer Brewster was also enjoyable. A favourite moment was when Guéroult recounted a murder scene in a play he’d reviewed, only to have the same procedure used to attempt to murder him. Gabrielle McGuinness, who played Elaine Harper, Mortimer’s fiancée, also gave an enjoyable performance.

The set and the costumes were simple but gave the impression that it was a well-kept, stately home, the last place you’d expect to find a family suffering from insanity. Particularly impressive was the cast’s grasp of the American accent, or in the case of Wilkinson, the German accent. In particular, Wilkinson’s soft German tones generated several fits of laughter. Nevertheless, Teddy Brewster, played by Colin Rothwell, had the best voice. It was so low and carried throughout the room. Rothwell played the maddest character of them all: a nephew of the Brewster sisters, Teddy Brewster, who believed he was President Theodore Roosevelt. Rothwell played the part brilliantly.

Unfortunately, the production was rudely interpreted halfway through by a fire alarm at the Corpus Playroom. Dr Einstein was in the middle of disposing of a body and the modern alarm system sounded. Not very 1940s. His witty comment ‘and there’s a fire alarm’ was met by much laughter. Into the cold the audience went. Nevertheless, some of the cast remained in character, providing hilarious improvisation to the freezing audience members. It was extremely entertaining and demonstrated how talented the cast were. As you’d expect, once the play resumed, several references to the fire alarm were made and met by genuine laughter. It didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits.

Congratulations to director Mark Bittlestone on delivering a stupendous night of entertainment. It was a treat.

Arsenic and Old Lace is at the Corpus Playroom till Saturday 30th January. I strongly recommend you get your hands on a ticket as the Play’s almost sold out!