What is the setting of the play? During what historic period does this plat take place?
The play takes place in the Brewster home in Brooklyn, NY during the 1940’s. This is during the World War 2 era.
Describe Teddy. Who is he? Who does he resemble?
Teddy s a man in his forties who has a moustache, glasses and a long frock coat. He is the nephew of Abby and Martha Brewster. He resembles Teddy Roosevelt.
Who is Elaine? Why does Rev. Harper disapprove of her relationship with Mortimer?
Elaine is the daughter of the Reverend Dr. Harper. He disapproves of her relationship with Mortimer because Mortimer is a dramatic critic, spends time in the theater(which Dr. Harper believes is a bad influence), ad brings elaine home at three in the morning.
What does Klein and Brophy’s conversation reveal about Teddy? What do we learn about Abby and Martha’s father?
Klein and Brophy reveal that Teddy is crazy and believes he is President Theodore Roosevelt. He also scares the neighbors by blowing his bugle. Abby and Martha’s father was crazy, as well, but a genius. He made millions of dollars inventing medicines, and even though he sometimes made mistakes, the police did not bother him because he volunteered to do free autopsies.
Why is the Brewster home listed with a rental agency as having furnished rooms for rent?
The Brewsters don’t rent rooms. It is their way of finding people to do good deeds for. They give food and money to people who come to their house.
What will become of Teddy when the Brewster sisters pass away?
Teddy will be committed to Happy Dale Sanitarium when the Brewster sisters pass away.
Who is Jonathan? How does Mortimer describe him? What do you think he means by this?
Jonathan is Mortimer and Teddy’s brother. Mortimer says he was asked to leave Brooklyn by request. He is the kind of person who likes to cut worms in two with his teeth. I think Mortimer means that Jonathan is cruel, mean and strange.
What news does Mortimer announce to his aunts?) What potential conflict does this present?
Mortimer announces he is going to marry Elaine. This is a conflict for the Reverend Dr. Harper, who does not like Mortimer’s influence on Elaine.
What does Mortimer discover? Who does he assume is responsible?
Mortimer finds a dead body in the window seat. He thinks Teddy is responsible.
Who is in the window seat? How did he get there? What will become of him?
Mr. Adam Hoskins, a Methodist, is in the window seat. Abby put him there after she poisoned him, so that Dr. Harper wouldn’t see the dead body at tea. He will be buried in the “Panama Canal” in the basement with the other dead bodies.
) What type of conflict does Mortimer face when the truth about his aunts is revealed to him? Explain.
Mortimer faces a Man Vs. Self conflict because he doesn’t know what decision to make in order to stop his aunts, but save them from criminal charges. It is also a Man Vs. Society conflict, since the laws state that if a person knows about a crime and does not report it, they are breaking the law.
Explain what happened to Mr. Midgely. What motivated the Brewster women to continue with this hobby?
Mr. Midgely came to rent a room, but died of a heart attack in the Brewster living room. He looked so peaceful when he was dead, Abby and Martha decided to send other lonely old men to the same kind of peace.
How does Mortimer react to Elaine when she arrives? Why does he do this?
Mortimer tries to get rid of Elaine and is rude to her. He does this because he is worried that she will find the dead body in the window seat.
Explain what happened with Mr. Gibbs.
Mr. Gibbs came to rent a room from the Brewster sisters. He had no family or friends, so Abby and Martha tried to give him the poisoned wine. When Mortimer realized what was going to happen, he chased Mr. Gibbs from the house, saving his life.
Describe Jonathan and Dr. Einstein.
Jonathan is tall, sinister, evil and looks like Boris Karloff. Dr. Einstein is an alcoholic who is small and timid, and has a ratty appearance.
How does Jonathan prove his identity to Abby and Martha?
Jonathan proves his identity by telling Abby and Martha things that only a family member would know. He recognizes Abby’s garnet ring, and states that Martha wears high lace collars to hide the scar where Grandfather Brewster’s acid had burned her.
What is the explanation for Jonathan’s physical appearance?
Dr. Einstein, a plastic surgeon, is responsible for Jonathan’s physical appearance. He saw the movie Frankenstein, was drunk, and then operated on Jonathan.
Who is Mr. Spenalzo? What has happened to him? Why?
Mr. Spenalzo is a man who gave Jonathan and Dr. Einstein a ride in his car. He was killed by Jonathan because he said that Jonathan looked like Boris Karloff. Now he is the dead body in the back of the car Jonathan and Einstein drove to Abby and Martha’s house.
What does Jonathan have planned?
Jonathan plans to stay in the Brewster home, have plastic surgery to change his face, and then set up a clinic to give plastic surgery to all of the criminals in Brooklyn. He thinks his aunt are the perfect cover for this criminal activity.
Based upon what you know of the characters, create an inference about what
might occur in the next Act of the play. What do you think Mortimer will do? What might Jonathan do?
Where did Einstein and Jonathan meet? How did meeting Einstein change Jonathan’s life?
Jonathan and Einstein met in London. Meeting Einstein changed Jonathan’s life because Einstein is a plastic surgeon. Einstein was able to change Jonathan’s face, so that he could return to places where he committed crimes in the past.
Who does Teddy think Einstein is? Where does Teddy want him to go? Why does this present a problem?
Teddy thinks Einstein and General Goethals, the head of the Panama Canal project. Teddy wants him to go to Panama(the basement) to inspect the lock for the canal. This presents a problem because if Einstein notices the graves in the basement, Abby and Martha’s secret is revealed.
How does Jonathan persuade his aunts to let him stay?
What is oddly comical about Jonathan’s statement, “Rather a good joke on my aunts-their living in a house with a body buried in the cellar”?
Jonathan doesn’t realize that the aunts wouldn’t be bothered by a dead body in the basement because they have already buried eleven there. This is called dramatic irony.
What do Jonathan and Einstein have planned for after Abby and Martha go to bed? What do Abby and Martha have planned for after Jonathan and Einstein go to bed?
Jonathan and Einstein want to bring Mr. Spenalzo in through the window, then bury him down in the basement. Abby and Martha want to hold a funeral service for Mr. Hoskins in the basement.
Why does Teddy want to tell Einstein about the yellow fever victim? How do Abby and Martha convince him not to?
Teddy wants to tell Einstein about the yellow fever victim because he believes Einstein is General Goethals, and that the Panama Canal is under his supervision. Abby and Martha convince him not to tell Einstein by telling Teddy that they would ruin his visit if they told him. Abby and Martha convince Teddy to keep the death a “state secret.”
Why does Jonathan prevent Elaine from leaving? What reason does he give Einstein?
Jonathan believed that Elaine has seen him at his car, bringing in the dead body of Mr. Spenalzo. He tells Einstein that she is lying, that she shouldn’t be sneaking into houses in the middle of the night, and she could be dangerous.
Based upon their conversation on pages 52-53, what kind of relationship do you think Jonathan and Mortimer have?
Jonathan and Mortimer have a very disturbing relationship. Jonathan used to tie Mortimer to a bed post and stick needles under his fingernails. Mortimer still considers Jonathan to be evil, and a horrible person. Neither of them like or trust each other.
Why is it that both Mortimer and Jonathan want to sleep on the window seat?
Mortimer and Jonathan both want to sleep on the window seat because they each want to prevent the other from finding out about a dead body inside of it. Mortimer thinks Mr. Hoskins is still in the window seat. Jonathan knows that Mr. Spenalzo was hidden by Einstein somewhere in the room.
Why can’t Mortimer marry Elaine? Explain.
Mortimer can’t marry Elaine because his family is crazy. He is afraid that if he has any children, they would inherit the Brewster insanity. In addition, he thinks it’s just a matter of time before he goes insane himself. He doesn’t want Elaine to have to deal with his insanity.
What does Mortimer discover in the window seat? How does he react?
Mortimer discovers another dead body in the window seat. He thinks it is another of his aunt’s bodies. He accuses Abby of having killed Mr. Spenalzo while he was gone.
Why does Mortimer think he can force Jonathan to leave? What does Jonathan say to this threat?
He thinks he can blackmail Jonathan into leaving. He threatens to call the police and tell them about Spenalzo. Jonathan says that what happened to Spenalzo can happen to Mortimer, as well.
Who arrives? Why does Mortimer want him to stay? How does Mortimer convince him to stay?
Officer O’Hara arrived. Mortimer wants him to stay so that Jonathan will be forced to leave. Mortimer convinces O’Hara to stay by discussing his play with him, and offering to help him write it.
What does Jonathan plan to do to escape Mortimer’s blackmail? What does Einstein discover that makes it possible for them to stay?
Jonathan plans to throw Mr. Spenalzo in the bay and return to the house. Einstein discovers the body of Mr. Hoskins in the open grave in the basement.
This allows them to stay because they have a dead body, but so does Mortimer.
Why don’t Abby and Martha want Mr. Spenalzo buried it eh cellar? What conclusion does Einstein reach about Abby and Martha? How does Jonathan intend to break the tie?
They don’t want Spenalzo to be buried in their cellar because he is a stranger. In addition, they are afraid they will run out of space. Lastly, they object because he is a foreigner. Einstein realizes that the aunts are as good at murder as Jonathan is. Jonathan intends to break the tie by killing someone else—possibly Mortimer.
What is it that Abby and Martha find upsetting?
Abby and Martha find it upsetting that Jonathan and Einstein are burying Mr. Spenalzo with Mr. Hoskins. They are angry that they can’t have a full Methodist service for Hoskins, since Spenalzo is a foreigner, a stranger and they don’t know his religion.
Where has Mortimer been? What is his plan?
Mortimer has been to see Dr. Gilchrist. His plan is to have Teddy’s commitment papers in order, so that Teddy can be blamed fir the dead bodies in the basement, and sent to Happy Dale Sanitarium, where he would end up anyway.
WHat do Abby and Martha think will happen if the police are notified about their activities? WHat do you would happen?
ABby and Martha don’t believe the police will do anything if they are notified about the murders. ABby doesn’t think the police will pry into their private business, and Martha feels that they won’t be arrested because it would cause too much paperwork.
What is that Jonathan wants accomplished before he goes to sleep? By what method does Jonathan specifically want this done?
Jonathan wants Mortimer murdered before he goes to sleep. He would like to use the Melbourne Method, which takes two hours and involves Einstein’s medical tools.
Describe the conversation between mortimer and Einstein. Why do you think Einstein s saying such things to Mortimer?
Einstein tries to urg Mortimer to leave the house, and Mortimer does the same to Einstein. Einstein asks Mortimer to leave because he doesn’t want to have to preform the Melbourne Method on Mortimer with Jonathan.
Describe Mortimer’s capture. According to Jonathan, who goes next? How does Einstein react to this?
Mortimer begins to describe a terrible play he had seen the night before. He complains that the play was stupid, and easily captured. As Mortimer describes the actions of the characters int he play, they are actually happening around him. Einstein tells Mortimer that the guy in the play wasn’t too bright, implying that Mortimer isn’t either, since he was captured the same way.
Jonathan says that Teddy will go next, since he blew the bugle and ruined Jonathan’s plan to kill Mortimer. Einstein syas no, they will not kill Teddy at all. “That’s where I shtop!” he says.
How does Teddy save Jonathan and Einstein from death? How does Teddy save Mortimer form death as well?
Tedy blows his bugle which startles Jonathan and EInstein, causing them to spill the poison wine. Because of the bugle blowing, Jonathan knows he doesn’t have enough time to kill Mortimer using the Melbourne Method. Ultimately, he doesn’t get chance to kill Mortimer at all, since O’Hara arrives, attracted but the sound of the bugle.
How does O’Hara react to seeing Mortimer tied up? Why doesn’t he untie Mortimer?
O’Hara asks why Mortimer is tied up, and believes Einstein when he says they were reenacting the play Mortimer had just seen. He decides not to untie Mortimer until he listens to the plot for his play.
WHo enters to interrupt O’Haras story? Why did they come to the Brewster home? What news did they give O’Hara?
Brophy and Klein interrupt O’Haras story. They came to the Brewster home to warn Abby and MArtha about Teddy’s bugle blowing. They tell O’Hara that since he didn’t ring in, the entire police force was out looking for him.
What does Brophy say on the telephone that alerts Jonathan? Why does Jonathan have this reaction?
Brophy says to call off the big manhunt because they found O’Hara at the Brewster house. Jonathan heard the word “manhunt” and assumes they are talking about him. He says he’s been turned in and that Mortimer and the cops will most likely split the reward. He also mentions that ABby and Martha have 13 bodies in their cellar.
How does the officers react to Jonathan’s accusations against his aunts? What does Jonathan do to discredit him with the police officers?
Jonathans’s accusations against his aunts are ignored by the officers because they all know the Brewster sisters well. In addition, Jonathan tres to strangle Klein for saying he looks like Boris Karloff, so they assume he is insane.
Who is Lt. Rooney? What does Lt. Rooney reveal about Jonathan?
Lt. Rooney is a police officer with a higher rank than Brophy, Klein or O’Hara. He recognizes Jonathan from the description in True Crime Magazine. He reveals that Jonathan escaped from a prison for the criminally insane, where he was sentenced to life in jail.
Teddy confirms that there are thirteen bodies in the cellar. What doe he do to discredit his claim, as well?
Teddy discredits his claims by assuming Jonathan is a yellow fever victim. In addition, he insists that as the president of the united states, he should be allowed to question any spies who enter the white house.
How does Mortimer get Teddy to agree to being committed to Happy Dale immediately? Who is Mr. Witherspoon? Who does Mortimer tell Teddy he is?
Mortimer tells Teddy that his term in office is over. Mr. Witherspoon s the Superintendent of Happy Dale Sanitarium. Mortimer tells Teddy that Witherspoon is his guide for his safari in Africa, which Teddy Roosevelt took after he left office.
Why do Abby and Martha wish to show Lt. Rooney the bodies in the cellar? How does Lt. Rooney react to their claims?
Abby and Martha wish to show Lt. Rooney the bodies in the cellar to prove him that Teddy isn’t crazy and he doesn’t need to be sent to Happy Dale. Lt. Rooney doesn’t believe in their claims, either, assumes they are ass insane a Teddy and Jonathan.
Describe Einsteins departure. What do you think will become of Einstein?
Einstein tries to sneak down the stairs and out the front dorr, but Mortimer stops him and asks him to sign Abby and Martha’s commitment papers. Rooney and Klein enter making it possible for Einstein to run out without being noticed. Rooney calls the police station and asks for the description of Jonathan;s accomplice. Although he is looking directly at Einstein, Rooney fails to recognize him, and leaves the room. Finally, Einstein escapes. I think Einstein will get caught and not be able to escape secretly.
What concerns Abby and MArtha about their commitment papers? What is revealed about Mortimer that solves his problems with Elaine?
Martha and Abby are concerned that Mortimer’s signature is going to be investigated, since he signed as next of kin. Abby and Martha explain that Mortimer isn’s really a Brewster. He is the son of an unwed cook who came to work in the Brewster house. Mr. Brewster(Abby and Martha’s brother, Jonathan and Teddy’s Father) married her after his own wife(mother of Jonathan and Teddy) died, and raised Mortimer as his own son. This solves the problem with Elaine, since Mortimer no longer fears that either he or his future children will inherit the Brewster insanity.
What does Jonathan suggest be done with the Brewster home? What does he say in parting that angers his aunts?
Jonathan recommends that his aunts donate the house to the church, since he thinks it should be a part of the cemetery. He then angers his aunts by saying that none of them will have a chance to break the tie, so the record for murders is even at 12.
How do Abby and Martha decide to break the tie with Jonathan? Do you think Abby and Martha have learned anything fromt their experiences? Why or why not?
Abby and Martha decide to break the tie with Jonathan by offering Mr. Witherspoon, who is a lonely old man without a family some of their poisoned elderberry wine. I don’y think Abby and Martha have learned anything because they still continue to murder lonely old men who come to their house looking for a room to rent.
In the play, Abby, Martha, Jonathan, Einstein, Teddy and Mortimer have all broken the law in some fashion. Do you think justice was served by the way the play left their characters? If so, why? If not, why?
Abby, Martha, Jonathan and Einstein all committed murder. Teddy and Mortimer were accomplices after the fact, and helped to cover up Abby and Martha’s crimes.