Quick wit and even faster costume changes characterize the Longmont Theatre Company’s production of “The Mystery of Irma Vep.”
The quirky show opens the second half of the community theater’s 65th season, put on by returning director Patrick Payne. Andy Jacobs and Elliot Clough make their debuts on the Longmont Theatre Company stage as the two men skillfully take on several roles each, playing a variety of histrionic characters.
Written by Charles Ludlam, “Irma Vep” is a satirical horror comedy with elements of the Victorian melodrama and the penny dreadful featuring vampires, werewolves, mummies and more.
Dramatic and cringy in the most fun way, the two actors fully commit to their characters and costume changes to the point where I would sometimes forget there weren’t any extra actors backstage as I watched their final dress rehearsal on Thursday evening. While more humorous than scary, the exaggerated spooky elements also got me excited for Halloween.
The show mostly takes place in the decorated Victorian study of Mandacrest Estate, home of Egyptologist Lord Edgar (Clough) and his second wife, Lady Enid (Jacobs). Lord Edgar is still recovering from the death of his first wife, Irma Vep, while his staff Jane Twisden (also Clough) and swineherd Nicodemus Underwood (also Jacobs) have their own opinions of Lady Enid.
As supernatural events ensue, Lord Edgar ends up in Egypt in the second act while tension escalates and humor builds to reveal several unexpected — or hilariously expected — twists and turns.
References to famous gothic literature are peppered in along with cheeky references to the concept of the show itself, all cleverly delivered by Jacobs and Clough. The energy of this campy show drew me in and I found myself committing to the rather unrealistic story and drama as much as the actors.
The set features both small details and large surprises that reflect the spirit of the production. Exaggerated sound effects and lighting amplify the jokes throughout the roughly two hour run time.
The show pulls off what is a rather bizarre storyline with talented actors, well-timed technical features and a blizzard of costume changes that makes the entire experience a fun one.
“The Mystery of Irma Vep” runs from Sept. 16-25 on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. at the Longmont Theatre Company, 513 East Main St. For tickets, go to LongmontTheatre.org.