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The mystery of Irma Vep.

Charles Ludlam's latest production, The Mystery of Irma Vep, performed by himself and Everett Quinton at the Ridiculous Theatrical Company, is a gripping Gothic vampire tale. "You know I'm not a superstitious man." "You certainly are not." "And yet . . ." It is also a sendup of gripping vampire tales, with references to Rebecca, Psycho, The Mummy, Now Voyager, The Raven, H. Rider Haggard's She and God knows what else. It also sends up half the cliches in the English language. Ludlam cannot pronounce a syllable without twisting it maliciously. His play is also a tour de force of quick-change character shifts, some of them dazzling, as when two characters performed by himself appear to be arguing, partially concealed behind a door. In brief, there are half a dozen levels in The Mystery of Irma Vep, all of them brilliant, none of them deep, and you come to feel you're looking at self-reflecting mirrors, which is funny and fascinating. Funny to is the incidental music by Peter Golub, especially when the Egyptologist arrives in Egypt to study a tomb that later turns out to be the back room of a restaurant. Funnies still are the hideous screams of Ludlam, which make you laugh even before the play begins. A neat trick. A bravura performance. A bargain, even at $20 maximum.

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Author:Berman, Paul
Publication:The Nation
Article Type:Theater Review
Date:Oct 27, 1984
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