‘The Mystery of Irma Vep’ Opens at the Waterfront Playhouse

‘The Mystery of Irma Vep’ Opens at the Waterfront Playhouse

Posted Thu, Dec 4, 2003 in Reviews

The Key West Players begin their 2003/04 season next week with “The Mystery of Irma Vep,” a Charles Ludlam play starring Tom Luna and Danny Weathers.This wildly theatrical production was first performed locally in 1997 to much acclaim, and will run from the opening night of Dec. 18 through Jan. 10. Originally directed by Joan McGillis, the production was proclaimed by The Key West Citizen as “brain candy, but brain candy that’s Godiva.””The Mystery of Irma Vep” takes place in Victorian England, at Lord and Lady Hillcrest’s country home of Mandacrest, situated on the moors of England. The play begins with the introduction of Lord Edgar’s new bride, Lady Enid, a situation that creates tension among the servants, Jane and Nicodemus. Edgar’s first wife, Lady Irma, has recently died mysteriously, as has their only child. Who or what has been stalking the Hillcrests? Eventually Lord Edgar travels to the pyramids of Egypt, where he hopes to find some answers to these strange occurrences. The mysteries deepen and secrets are revealed all with hysterical results. Barbara Bowers of Key West, The Newspaper wrote, “[The play] is so much fun, and so outrageous, most people don’t even realize the panorama of characters are played by only two actors.” Irma Vep is a marathon of quickchange action for two actors, who embody an array of eccentric characters. Monsters, mummies, proper English gentlemen, wolves, ladies in distress all make appearances as Luna and Weathers enact the entire cast. Jane Phillips of Solares Hill newspaper wrote of the original production: “Weathers and Luna amaze the audience as they slip in and out of a nutty series of characterizations, any one of which is funny enough to bring the house down. They are a pair of theatrical treasures.” The popular duo have appeared many times on the stages of Key West. Other productions they have performed together are “The Big Bang,” “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, abridged,” “Forum,” “WhoopDeeDoo!” and “When Pigs Fly!” The Waterfront’s technical director, Terry Tucker, will serve as scenic and lighting designer. The ornate costumes have been specially designed for “The Mystery of Irma Vep.””The Mystery of Irma Vep: A Penny Dreadful” was written by the legendary Charles Ludlam for his New Yorkbased theater, The Ridiculous Theatre Company, and it is considered his finest creation. The play was inspired by Victorian penny dreadfuls, cheap novels which combined sensationalist horror elements with sublime language and images. The playwright borrows from many theatrical conventions: melodrama, vaudeville, opera, high camp, tragedy and spectacle and it is all wrapped in gorgeous, poetic language. The play unabashedly purloins plot devices and passages from “Rebecca,” “The Mummy” and “Wuthering Heights,” while using the theatrical devices of double casting, fast change and special effects with glee. For tickets, call Alan Melnick at the Waterfront Playhouse box office at 2945015, or email [email protected]. Please note there are no performances on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Special additional performances are on Dec. 28, Dec. 29 and Jan. 4. All performances begin at 8 p.m.

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