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The Mystery of Irma Vep

The Mystery of Irma Vep is a play performed by eight characters though it is meant to be performed by two actors. The actors play the role of both male and female because it includes a stipulation that the actors need to be of the same sex thus ensuring cross-dressing. In order to understand the concept well, it important to understand how the characters organized and performed. As mentioned (Mel 12) the play was meant to be performed by two main actors but then it had to involve eight characters who play the roles of the two. These are as follows.

Dan Brown was:

  • Jane Twisden-the maid. She was an original, strong British maid, reliable, firm and untiring. She was very loyal, obedient and trustworthy to her ex-employer, Lady Irma Vep and she hated and despised Nicodemus.
  • Lord Edgar- he was the manor’s lord. His leadership was an illustration of the British aristocrat. He imagined himself an Egyptologist and frequently goes exploring but is not important to the daring personality (The New York Times, p25). He married again after the death of his first wife, Irma Vep. Though Irma was dead, Lord Edgar was deeply in thought of her and he still loved her as much as he lover the second wife.
  • An intruder- he was an intruder as the name suggest meaning that it is as self explanatory as he much mysterious.
  • Irma Vep-she was not a real Irma in this case and this will be well understood as we go on.

Todd King on the other hand was:

  • Nicodemus-the groomsman. He was the grounds and garden man. He was a hearty man from England who was able to think classily.  He had a peg leg and he was font of Jane though he rebuked her.
  • Lady Enid- she was the second wife of Lord Edgar and the lady of manor. Before she became a wife to Edgar, she used to act and she was not to do away with acting even when she was married to Edgar. In other words, she was the epoch starlet who sticks onto the aura of “ACTRESS” (Ronnie, 18).
  • Alcazar- Egyptian guide. He was shifty and could not stick with one opinion thus he had no outstanding motives or no one could actually no his real motives.
  • Pev Amri- Egyptian mummy and princess. She was woken up by her lord Edgar on one of his trips to Egypt where he wanted them to go together. She was a very active Egyptian princess thus she was not dead.

The show is well enjoyed where there are a massive number of sound cues, special effects, props and lightning-quick costume changes. The two-hour show incorporates thirty-five changes in costumes. The play also entails appearances by vampires, ghosts, werewolves and mummies. I must admit this are the most interesting parts to watch in the play, as they are frightening and eye-catching (Marks, 21). The play has some occasional taunt of a grown up nature though it though it is greatly acceptable for the young audience because the message it passes across is for all the generations not for the adults only. The performance is played in camp style and this is well brought out on the theatre stage. The ultimate aim of such a style was to make things more official  especially the things detained in low motives by the society and changing them to give them new meaning and new worth by altering their context.

The play is a ridiculous send-up of legendary movie characters and fictional themes full of satire, madcap antics and strange changes in costumes. It is as well full of mind-twisting analogies, drop-dead funny double and triple entendres and with sight gags while shoving from sublime to truly silly. The play and all its funny and ridiculous antics was scripted by Charles Ludlam who had earlier on created the New York Ridiculous theatrical Company which featured one of the famous actors in the metro area (Mel, 12). The play started by Lady Enid Hillcrest (Rebecca) who had been newly married moving into the manor, which was Lord Edgar’s territory and was controlled by a sinister house keeper full of the necessary misty secure and ominous gloom overtones. The Mystery of what had happened to Irma Vep who showed gazes observantly from the blanket layer or coverage was sufficient for lamenting goodtime werewolf burlesque.

The perfect J. Fred shiffman was able to produce a line like no other using his lean-lit withering and bearing expressions, plays the hell out of the housekeeper sinister, impale the new life, which is very unlucky with witty lines and sharp glares. He fills it down while considering Lord Edgar Hillcrest as normal person without much distinction. Tony nominee Brad Oscar depicts Nathan Lane with blazes of Jack Black Mania who had to take care of the oh-so-theatrical Lady Enid and Nicodemus who was a lecherous grounds man. It seemed funny since the characters had been thought to have great impact. Less or more camp? Very hard to answer.

This lead to tone and direction brought by Rebecca Taichman, phenomenally new sensibility to troublesome in Shakespeare’s  ‘Taming of the shrew’ for last year’s looks like stuck on complete strangle here, intense without enough heart to let the whole issue matter. It is intensively humorous though some parts seem damage. It could be as well the material. In the second act, Lord Edgar visited Egypt in a trip that looked like a diversion (The New York Times, p25). He invoked the Egyptian maiden dragged the sarcophagus dang reverse and placed it in the mansion that is found at the middle of it’s  great makeover encompassing a crying werewolf roaming the estate and it seemed great to fit in and without the privilege of tapping as can begin to shift into hammy Disney stage territory.

The production design is very fabulous and sufficient of brilliance with sound effects from Bray poor and lighting by Daniel Maclean Wegner that brought about the modified hilarity states that runs to ensue. The show is then stolen by the fabulous costumes that were designed by David Zinn and it deserved the well-deserved round of praises accompanied with chorus of the backstage dressers. The intensively dull gray dress of the housekeeper and the more than tilitating-spoiler alert which was the outfit of the Egyptian princess. The unconventionality in the play as well as the acting by Scott Dixon and Eric Knutson makes the performance funnier. Note that each of the four main characters namely; Enid Hillcrest, Lord Edgar hillcrest, Jane Twisden and Nicodemus could interact with two out of three other characters though each one at a time.

The audience was able to enjoy the play to extend that they could be convinced that Edgar and Jane shared the stage sometimes though the two parts are played by Knutson (one person). The characters involved the use of jokes to entertain the audience in order to give the other characters time to change their costumes (Marks, 21). I am hundred percent sure that am not the only person in the whole audience who had expectations to see all the actors come out for the curtain call. Sometimes in-between the play, a character enters the stage instantly as the other exits making the audience to have small gasps to show their surprise.

On one occasion, the campy scene sees Nicodemus speaking with Enid and I came to realize that it was a system employed by Dixon who stood at the doorway and alternately speaks to himself, as he presented a shoulder with the dress of Enid to and off to fit the speaker (Mel, 13). The trick became more and more real as the conversation goes on. The most interesting part is when Irma Vep who had died lies with the ability of making fun of it while showing or informing the audience on the story and the characters. Those were the appearances by vampires, ghosts, werewolves and mummies as mentioned earlier and they were sometimes frightening but most of the time very interesting to watch.

The success of the play greatly depended on the abilities of the actors to present the tricks. The most outstanding scene is Jane’s portrayal that was brought out clearly by Knutson and the same is shown by Dixon as Nicodemus. Alexander Gowdy-Jaehnig and Justin Madsen, who smoothened the changing of costumes and efficiently joins Knutson and Dixon for the curtain call. The long but seemingly narrow theatre seating at the city of Crystal goes on to be a dispute. The crucial stage left silent was unluckily lost on the completely outer boarder of the audience, even though they were seated close to the stage. Knutson and Dixon are great actors who were able to play the role of eight characters fantastically and they were able to bring out the voices of the ladies in this case Enid and Jane (Ronnie, 18). The picture brought out by Irma Vep with wonderful and fearful sounds of vampires, mummies were most interesting, and I feel like watching the play again.

The Arena stage of this season was successfully one of the most methodologically confronting feats in the history of Washington theatre, starting the season at SW, which is its home, smashing ground and starting the massive rebuild for a new $100 million plus facility. This process took place while modernizing and settling into brand new venue at Crystal city in the middle of the season without snags. That is wonderfully fitting as a finale and they gave as the technically brilliant fun romp. The play takes approximately two hours with one intermission. One of the crucial things to note is that the Mystery if Irma Vep is a very strange comedy that was written by a strange playwright, Charles Ludlam (Marks, 21). This is because he decided to use men to play the parts of women though he did not mean to take away from their strengths. Ludlam is a very creative person, founder of the New York’s Ridiculous theatre and he was not contended by just being funny, he went ahead to include satirical and wicked parts in the play as well as letting the play work out as a drama. These was able to move the audiences and it made them laugh and happy.


The Mystery of Irma Vep is one of the most popular plays that talks about a woman who marries a man that was still devoted to his previous wife that had deceased.  That brought out some sorts of sad moments but was still able to make the audience laugh and be happy by involving funny scenes full of crazy happenings and with silly gimmick where two characters played the role of three characters each (The New York Times, p25). However, the play also involves a lot of time wasting as the characters changes the costumes backstage. All in all, the play is very fantastic and eye-catching that involves a lot of ridiculous utterances and actions that make the audience laugh and be happy. In fact any audience who attends the play with stress and sadness comes out fully happy and stress free. I enjoyed the play and I wish to watch it over and over again.

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