Friday, June 27, 2008

The Mystery of Irma Vep

Watching this play is like having a bout of insomnia during the Mystery Horror Howler Chiller Theater marathon while clicking the tube between commercials to Hitchcock’s Rebecca and the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Playwright Ludlam starts with the Rebecca story of a living replacement wife haunted by the presence of her hubby's dead first wife—then tacks on snippets of The Wolf Man, The Mummy’s Curse, and a pre-Dracula silent flick called Irma Vep (an anagram for "Vampire," madam). Ludlam's characters also spout random snippets of Shakespeare—but highbrow entertainment it ain’t. The gimmick is: the play’s umpteen characters are played by two male actors, so there’s much cross-dressing and running in and out of doors. It’s as much circus act as theater: The peg-legged servant leaves the door—tada!—the bosomy replacement wife enters the other door. Whatever you call it, it’s pretty freaking funny.

‘The Mystery of Irma Vep'
Short version: Vampires and werewolves in drag, oh my.

Through July 13
Florida Studio Theatre
1241 North Palm Ave., Sarasota