Lyric Theatre presents “The Mystery of Irma Vep” by Charles Ludlam with great audience appreciation. The story is a spoof of Gothic horror and a tribute to the lowest form of humor—the pun. The show honors every classic movie and the Victorian melodrama with respect and incredible humor. The action takes place in a typically melancholic Gothic mansion on the moors, where else? Lord and Lady Hillcrest reside in the company of two servants, Jane Twisden and Nicodemus Underwood. Lady Enid Hillcrest is a newcomer, having replaced the previous Lady Irma Hillcrest, deceased for several years. Lord Edgar Hillcrest is an Egyptologist and Lady Hillcrest is a former actress. Jane Twisden, the faithful companion to the first Lady Hillcrest attends her and Nicodemus Underwood, the old family retainer are the only servants seen on the estate. An Egyptian guide accompanies Lord Hillcrest when he excavates an Egyptian tomb.
All of the wonderful characters in “The Mystery of Irma Vep” are played by two actors. Jeffrey Meek and Monte Riegel Wheeler are the two actors. The program lists Meek as Jane Twisden and Wheeler as Nicodemus Underwood. The program also lists Lady Hillcrest as Dame Judith Sneerwell but the role is actually done by Wheeler. Sir Cecil Cumberbatch is listed as portraying Lord Hillcrest, but that role is actually done by Meek. The role of the guide in Egypt is taken by Wheeler as well.
Clearly there is a great deal of confusion and hilarity with these two actors portraying all these characters that are so different. The possibilities for humor are endless and the difficulty of creating that humor is invisible. Director Michael Baron begins with a perfect cast and sets them on a perfect stage giving them a perfectly synchronized crew. Wheeler and Meek have the talent to pull off a great show but more than this, they bring to their roles dedication to craft, long hours of rehearsal creating seamlessly timed changes and a passion for pleasing their audience that cannot be underestimated.
While “The Mystery of Irma Vep” is a professional production, the entire cast and crew exhibit more than mere professionalism – they envelop the audience in the warm embrace of their love of humor and entertainment. They make it look easy, but we know it is not. “The Mystery of Irma Vep” is clearly a labor of love. From the cast, director, costume designer, scene designer, lighting designer, make-up designer and sound designer and from the entire crew laughter and joy emanate into the audience, permeating the pores, stimulating the soul and tickling the funny bone.
Lyric’s “The Mystery of Irma Vep” can be seen through October 27th at the Plaza Theatre located at 1727 N.W. 15th and the box office telephone number is 405-524-9312, Call for reservations for “The Mystery of Irma Vep” or for information on the upcoming shows and the 2013 Season. Don’t miss the chills, thrills, this is a great show! The slapstick is reminiscent of Mel Brooks and also, in this production, importantly and earnestly, the pun also rises!