I willingly drifted into Charles Ludlam’s ultra campy Gothic horror sendup “The Mystery of Irma Vep” last night at the Jungle Theater wherein Lady Enid and Lord Edgar attempt to learn more about the death of Edgar’s first wife, Irma. A gander at the set for the British library drawing room country estate is worth the price of admission. It’s like Roger Corman and Mario Bava on acid designed this nightmare. I admit to being a willing captive of this subversive humor. A garish portrait on the wall reminds us of Irma’s haunting presence as we are assaulted by a vampire, werewolf and mummy and are treated to that old standby, the wall that opens up to unspeakable horror. No one slept while this three-ring zany circus was underway.
Bradley Greenwald and Stephen Cartmell are the incredible actors in this manic fast-paced tour de farce that has to be experienced up close to get the full measure of their insanity. They play the roles of the butler, maid, werewolf, vampire, Egyptian guide and Lady and Lord Hillcrest. We hold our breath as they do numerous costume and makeup changes in hopes that the maid will appear with Lord Edgar’s mustache, but to no avail.
Of course the duo have to travel to ancient Egypt to converse with the mummy in hopes of learning how poor Irma met her untimely demise. Having enjoyed Charles Busch’s “Die Mommy Die” I was a ripe candidate for this over the top nonsense. It’s difficult to imagine how “Dracula the Musical” in October at the Howard Conn Theater will top this burlesque journey. We shall see and then report to you faithful readers. Stay tuned.