The Mystery of Irma Vep – A Penny Dreadful
By Charles Ludlam
Directed by Jim Helsinger
With Chris Crawford and Brad Deplanche
The fine folks at Orlando Shakes do one period comedy a season, and tonight they put up a two-man, 8 stage hand comedy. Out on the moors, Lord Edgar (Crawford) lead takes his new bride Lady Enid (DePlanche) to his remote holding Mandacrest Estate. She’s wife #2, his first wife Irma supposedly has died, but in this remote location she might just be lost out on the moors or down in the dungeon. There’s a tension between The Lord and his lady; she senses something is not quite right. Commenting on the situations we get our backstory from handyman Nicodemus (DePlanche) and housekeeper Mrs. Twisden (Crawford). She’s Britishly uptight while he’s more a Benny Hill skirt chaser. But he tends the pigs, and even in Row E he acts as if we can smell him. There’s a plot lurking behind the arras, but it’s not really important: this show is all about PG rated double entendre and fast change, self-referential humor. We get a full rasher of laughs, and the sets, the cast and the back stagers pull off some amazing stunts. One set is the gloomy manse, the other is temporary Egyptian sarcophagus with slightly off-color hieroglyphics and both really on crazy lighting angles to get you in the mood. Occasionally we see a stage hand in a rubber mask; on stage but not on credit. Such is theater amount the pretend wealthy. I can’t explain the jokes unless you were there but this a light farce for these dark days.