The Mystery of Irma Vep is a popular three act play by Charles Ludlum the satirizes many different literary genres among them are Victorian melodrama, penny dreadful, and movies like Wuthering Heights. I have seen four professional productions and no two have been the same. The play requires two incredible actors in that they each must play multiple roles, multiple genders and multiple ages. Curio Theater’s production directed by Steve Wright has provided us with two outstanding actors and an emphasis on the penny dreadful genre. Penny dreadfuls were cheap popular serial literature produced during the nineteenth century in the United Kingdom.
The two actors are Curio artistic director, Paul Kuhn and veteran company member Richard Bradford. They attack the myriad roles with great energy and intelligence. The story itself is a murder mystery in the in the Sherlock Holmes style. It has multiple twists and turns, many of whom are hilariously funny. Of special note is the comfort and ease that the two actors demonstrated. They tell the story by staying in character and taking us on the journey with them.
The Mystery of Irma Vep is also a show heavily reliant on props, costume, sound, set design and stage crew. In this, Director Wright hit a home run. Paul Kuhn does double duty as Set Designer, a job he has done many times and always with such success. Aetna Gallagher’s costumes are critical that not only make a clear statement, but they also must be able to change quickly. Nate Hart’s lighting design complements the set admirably as does Lyell Hint’s sound design. Jillian Schwab’s props are crucial to keeping the action moving. Finally, stage manager Lexa Grace and her staff are wonderful at keeping the action moving.
Kudos to all who worked on this delightful production for it is a true team triumph. The Mystery of Irma Vep runs until November 23rd. For information call 215.921.8243 or go online www.curiotheatre.org.