The Mystery of Irma Vep OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

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Opening Night:
April 10, 2014
Closing:
May 18, 2014

Theater: Lucille Lortel Theatre / 121 Christopher Street, New York, NY, 10014

Synopsis: 

After his first wife, Irma, meets her unfortunate demise on the mysterious moors, Egyptologist Lord Edgar takes Lady Enid as his second wife, much to the dismay of his protective maid, Jane, and his leering swineherd, Nicodemus. But when Lady Enid suffers a similarly supernatural attack, life at Mandacrest Estate quickly becomes a gripping whodunit (or whatdunit) where nothing is remotely what it seems.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF The Mystery of Irma Vep

    Mummy Dearest, Back for More | ‘The Mystery of Irma Vep’ Plays the Lucille Lortel Theater

    Alexis Soloski

    April 17, 2014: As soon as a playhouse announces a Charles Ludlam comedy, how sellers of Velcro and cheap wigs must rejoice. When Ludlam died in 1987, he left behind a flamboyant, genre-defying oeuvre that depends on outrageous, easily doffed costumes. In The Mystery of Irma Vep: A Penny Dreadful, revived by Red Bull Theater at the Lucille Lortel Theater, two stalwart actors (Arnie Burton and Robert Sella) shift gowns, trousers, fezzes and the occasional wooden leg faster than laws of space and time would seem to permit. If Charlotte Brontë were to spend an afternoon bingeing on Hammer horror flicks, medicinal sherry and Jiffy Pop, perhaps she could dream up a tale as delirious as that of Irma Vep. Most likely not. This 1984 script, which originally starred Ludlam and his partner Everett Quinton, plays out on Mandacrest, a sinister and remote English estate. When Lady Enid arrives as the new wife of the haunted Lord Edgar, vampires, werewolves and the occasional Egyptian mummy interrupt nuptial bliss. The plotting is gleefully bad, the puns worse.

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  • TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW OF The Mystery of Irma Vep

    The Mystery of Irma Vep: Theater review by Raven Snook

    Raven Snook

    April 21, 2014: Red Bull Theater unwraps a 30th-anniversary revival of Charles Ludlam's classic camp burlesque of Victorian melodrama and horror, in which werewolves, vampires and mummies terrorize the inhabitants of an English manse. Arnie Burton and Robert Sella split all the roles between them, directed by the masterful Everett Quinton (the widower Ludlam himself). Sixteen years ago, I saw—twice—the first Off Broadway revival of Charles Ludlam’s deliriously funny Gothic satire, The Mystery of Irma Vep, and I still remember how much my body ached from spastic laughter. So I worried that Red Bull Theater’s 30th-anniversary mounting might dilute my glorious memories of the cross-dressing comedy. I needn’t have. Everett Quinton—the late Ludlam’s partner onstage and off, and costar of both the original and 1998 Irma Vep productions—now sits on the director’s throne. His intimate knowledge of the campy two-hander’s every punch line, sight gag and cultural reference has been bequeathed to stars Arnie Burton and Robert Sella, who take the ball gowns and run with ’em.

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  • NEW YORK DAILY NEWS REVIEW OF The Mystery of Irma Vep

    ‘The Mystery of Irma Vep,’ theater review

    Joe Dziemianowicz

    April 21, 2014: There’s no riddle about the aim of The Mystery of Irma Vep. The goal is to crack you up. Mission accomplished. The Red Bull Theater’s 30th anniversary production of Charles Ludlam’s merry mashup of Dracula, Rebecca and Lon Chaney’s mummies is a producer’s dream: one set and two versatile actors playing a bunch of parts — male, female, beast. It takes well-tuned comic chops and actors who can change costumes in a flash — or faster. Arnie Burton and Robert Sella are up to the task. The action begins amid the moors of rural England, where Lady Enid Hillcrest settles down with her new husband, Lord Edgar, at Mandacrest Manor. Well, she tries to anyway. Creepy peg-legged butler Nicodemus and scheming housekeeper Jane spook her with stories of the place’s troubled history.

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  • THEATERMANIA REVIEW OF The Mystery of Irma Vep

    The Mystery of Irma Vep

    Zachary Stewart

    April 17, 2014: "It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize there were only two actors in this show," a friend told me as we walked away from The Lucille Lortel Theatre, home of the 30th-anniversary revival of Charles Ludlam's The Mystery of Irma Vep. Truly, the characterizations are so distinct, and the quick changes so impossibly quick in Red Bull Theater's remounting, that it's easy to forget that it's a two-hander. Under the loving direction of original cast member Everett Quinton (Ludlam's partner in life and onstage), this play soars to dizzying heights of ridiculousness. Originally produced a few blocks away at Ludlam's Ridiculous Theatrical Company (now home of Axis Company), The Mystery of Irma Vep is undoubtedly Ludlam's most popular work, spawning hundreds of productions around the world. It holds the appropriately ridiculous distinction as the longest-running play in the history of Brazil. With its joyful embrace of melodramatic theater and cinema, it's easy to see why. Irma Vep borrows freely from Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, Wuthering Heights, Shakespeare, Victorian penny dreadfuls, and the entire canon of American vampire, mummy, and werewolf movies. It is simultaneously subversive of and tributary to all these forms, resulting in a theatrical smorgasbord that will have you rolling in the aisles.

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  • BROADWAY WORLD REVIEW OF The Mystery of Irma Vep

    BWW Reviews: Red Bull's THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP Could Use More Ridiculousness

    Michael Dale

    April 20, 2014: Those who remember the glory days of Charles Ludlam's Ridiculous Theatrical Company surely treasure those distinctively rough edges that were a beloved trademark. Ludlam's style of camp and subversive parody was decidedly lacking in glamour. The actors he employed often carried an unconventional presence in looks, speech pattern or vocal timbre that still isn't seen frequently in mainstream theatre. So perhaps it's a little jarring that Red Bull Theater's 30th anniversary production of Ludlam's most popular success, The Mystery of Irma Vep: a Penny Dreadful, is slick, polished and funny, but not especially ridiculous.

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  • THEATER PIZZAZZ REVIEW OF The Mystery of Irma Vep

    The Mystery of Irma Vep – Werewolves, Mummies, Vampires – Oh My!

    Sandi Durell

    April 20, 2014: In Red Bull Theater Company’s current revival of The Mystery of Irma Vep, at the Lucille Lortel Theare, ridiculousness rules in this tour-de-force. Produced in 1984 by Charles Ludlam and partner Everett Quinton (who directs this production), we meet six characters (or is it seven?) played by two uber-talented wacky actors, Arnie Burton and Robert Sella. The wacky and zany melodramatic comedy is a compilation of a little bit Rebecca, Wuthering Heights, Gaslight, Shakespeare, Dracula and, as Ludlam referenced, Victorian penny dreadfuls, featuring faster than the eye can see costume changes with lots of Velcro, shoddy fabrics (weren’t those somebody’s curtains?) designed by Ramona Ponce, and wigs by Aaron Kinchen.

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