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Tuesday, July 13, 2010


(Michael Gritten and Steven Stead in just one of their disguises!)

Award-winning drama to have two-week season at Heritage Theatre.

Starring Michael Gritten and Steven Stead, The Mystery of Irma Vep enjoyed two successful seasons in 2007 at the Seabrooke’s Theatre and at the Hilton Arts Festival. Demand has been so strong for a return season that KickstArt will present the production at the Heritage Theatre from July 13.

By Charles Ludlam, The Mystery of Irma Vep is described as the fabulous “Penny Dreadful” campy melodrama tribute to Gothic horror films. KickstArt’s high-energy, high-camp quick change extravaganza, which is directed and designed by Greg King, with lighting design by Tina le Roux won awards for acting, direction, design and best production at the 2007 Durban Theatre Awards.

Michael Gritten and Steven Stead play all of the play's eight characters, racing through a literal quick-change marathon complete with werewolves, vampires and damsels in distress. Combine all that with crazy plot twists (two characters travel from England to Egypt to inspect a mummy), and the end result is fun for everyone!

The show shamelessly borrows from well-known movie classics like Wuthering Heights, The Mummy's Curse and Alfred Hitchcock's Academy Award-winning Rebecca. Literary detectives will also recognize dialogue lifted from Ibsen, Shakespeare, Poe, the Brontë sisters, Omar Khayyam, and Oscar Wilde.

Written in 1984, The Mystery Irma Vep became the most popular of Ludlam's plays. It was named one of 1984's best plays by Time Magazine and The New York Times and won Drama Desk and Obie awards for both Ludlam and his partner, Everett Quinton. Though many doubted that the play would have appeal beyond the Ridiculous Theatrical Company and its original stars, it became one of the most-produced plays in the country, delighting audiences with non-stop action and demanding tour-de-force performances.

“Vep is an exercise in high spoof and dexterous acting. Two actors play eight roles in a convoluted story set in Lord Edgar Hillcrest's isolated moorland manor house, Mandacrest (think Mandalay). Irma Vep is Lord Edgar's three-years-deceased wife, who consorted with a wolf and exerts her will on the living (think Rebecca). There's a Mrs. Danvers-like housekeeper, Jane, who can't forgive the hapless Lady Enid for being Lord Edgar's new wife. Then we have Nicodemus, a deformed groundsman, an Egyptian tomb robber, a mummy and a vampire. Oh, and don't forget the likeable werewolf! Well, you get the picture,” says Elizabeth Weir in her Talking Broadway feature.

The Mystery of Irma Vep runs at the Heritage Theatre, Heritage Market in Hillcrest from July 13 to 25. Book on 031 7654197 or online: