Skip to main content

The Mystery Of Irma Vep - A Penny Dreadful at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

The Mystery Of Irma Vep was my first encounter with The Playhouse Theatre Northampton amateur group after missing their previous performances this year due to a clash with other happenings. It was also my first encounter with writer Charles Ludlum and I have to say that came as quite a surprise as well. Much like a Carry On film it was all silly antics and double entendres.

As would be expected for an amateur production the set was simple yet effective within budget constraints. There were rickety doors and troublesome gun racks, but it all added to the general frivolity of the play. The story is slight and pretty unimportant from Ludlum but the antics were keenly played by the cast of six (four main stars and two added delights). Further research of the play has led me to understand that the play is traditionally played by two gentlemen via quick changing with the men playing both male and female roles. The Playhouse has dispersed with this, but nothing appeared to be lost in this except the pantomime dame scenario, which I was probably not too displeased with.

All four speaking roles are performed well, my personal favourite being Simon Rye very much camping it up as Lord Elgar Hillcrest opposite his upfront second wife Lady Enid Hillcrest played by Juliet O'Connor (who also provides another comic role later via a prop from a joke shop!). Corinna Leeder and Jem Clack are great fun also in their two (well three) roles of Jane Twisden. As well as the main cast, there is also a brief great turn by the most miserable faced sand dancers you could imagine. Just great stuff, well done Suzanne Richards and Jenny Bond!

It was also a delight to discover the Playhouse Theatre for the first time. A lovely little place, effectively hidden in what appears to be a house. Once inside, you find a licensed bar and a fully kitted out theatre. Quite a surprise.

Overall a fun, but totally none brain draining two hours of entertainment featuring all sorts of silly and frankly bizarre happenings tied together by some good (but also bad) jokes.


Performance reviewed: Tuesday 2nd December, 2014

The Mystery Of Irma Vep - A Penny Dreadful continues at the Playhouse Theatre, Northampton until Saturday 6th December, 2014. For full details visit their website at http://www.theplayhousetheatre.net/

Popular posts from this blog

Review of The Worst Witch at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

Jill Murphy's The Worst Witch first appeared in print in 1974, bringing its tale of an academy for witches to the first of a few generations. It was a long time before a certain boy wizard made his first appearance in a school of his own, and doesn't Emma Reeves, adaptor for the stage, know it. There are many a jibe at the HP universe in this stage version, that even I, someone who has never read or watched any of them (yes, really), could pick up.

Mildred Hubble arrives by mistake at the wrong university, a "normal" or "pleb" far removed from the rest of the students at Miss Cackle's Academy. Here she meets friends and enemies, and a certain evil twin bent on world domination.

Reeves' adaptation starts off slightly shakily as we are presented with what at first threatens to be a cheap rip-off of the mega stage hit The Play That Goes Wrong as we are introduced to the premise that this is a play put on by the students, complete with copycat stage ma…

Review of The Pillowman at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

The Pillowman sounds such a friendly title, and to be fair, his story is one of the lighter aspects of Martin McDonagh's script. It still involves dead children though, if you want to get a clear vision of how dark this play is.

Set in a police state of the future, Katurian (Toby Pugh) is taken in for the content of his often violent stories and a similarity to a spate of recent child killings. Here in detention cell 13, his police captors, Tupolski (Adrian Wyman) and Ariel (Steve While) play good cop, bad cop while holding over the threat of violence against Katurian's mentally disabled brother Michal (Patrick Morgan), being held in another cell.

The Pillowman is clearly a very warped story, with the blackest of black comedy, and often also very offensive with it's racial stereotyping and disability. In fact, it is no surprise that a couple left in the interval, as I would happily admit that this play is far from everyone. I like a good black comedy though, and lifting an …

Review of Broadway Lights And West End Nights at Northampton College

I have followed the acting course at the University of Northampton for the last five years now, but this Saturday I experienced the Level 3 Musical Theatre group at Northampton College for the first time, as they presented a performance by their first and second-year students. The evidence from this first encounter suggests that there is some very good talent on its way through this course.

The evening presented a nicely varied selection of performances from six shows, Avenue Q, Rent, The Lion King, Cats, Mary Poppins and Sweet Charity, both providing some lovely singing routines and a few of pure dance, allowing the students to show many of their, very obvious, skills.

From the collection of 21 routines presented, there were a few standout moments, the best of which for myself was Mungojerrie & Rumpleteazer performed by Tom Kalek and Lily Cushway. This was a routine of such polish that I would happily have watched on any stage, never mind a student performance. Kaley and Cushway…