The play is a farcical comedy revolving around Mortimer Brewster, a drama critic who must deal with his crazy,
homicidal family and local police in Brooklyn, NY, as he debates whether to go through with his recent promise to marry
the woman he loves. His family includes two spinster aunts who have taken to murdering lonely old men by poisoning them
with a glass of home-made elderberry wine laced with arsenic, strychnine, and "just a pinch" of cyanide; a brother who
believes he is Theodore Roosevelt and digs locks for the Panama Canal in the cellar of the Brewster home
(which then serve as graves for the aunts' victims); and a murderous brother who has received plastic surgery performed
by an alcoholic accomplice, Dr. Einstein to conceal his identity and now looks like horror-film actor Boris Karloff.