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/

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review of The Blue Road by R&D Young Company at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

I have a 100% strike record with the wonderful Youth Theatre group at Royal & Derngate, they have never let me down with a show and sometimes with those of Sweeney Todd and Kontact, have provided me with some of the very optimum theatre points of each year. The Blue Road, their very latest production for me is slightly less successful.

However, it thankfully and perhaps not surprisingly, is nothing to do with the constantly talented bunch of actors that gather in this group. My problem lies in two places, of play selection and the way it is told. The Blue Road chronicles the story of a group of young people on the backend of a not totally described crisis, and this, unfortunately, is where we were more or less just two years ago with the Young Company and their show Immune. I have always been interested in these post apocalyptic stories and often love them, however for the same group to do two so close together feels a shame. They challenge certainly, but I am sure there are many…

Review of Once Upon A Grimm Tale by The Royal & Derngate Actors Company (Early) at Judge's Lodgings, Northampton

Once upon a time, there was a brave theatrical reviewer. He lived in a market town in deepest darkest Englaland, where many great and remarkable things of stage did occur. At the centre of this wondrous world of performing spectacles was a place referred to by many as the Royal Derngatus, a place of people pretending to be other people and telling tales of mystery, intrigue and frolics.

Within the fortressed walls of Royal Derngatus, there were a group of fearless players who entertained local folk for no reward, other than the thrill of seeing the joy in the faces of others. Those group of artists went by the name of Actors Companus, which many pronounced carefully when they did say it out loud. This group of merry men and women did have two forms, an early and a late, and but two days before this adventurous evening of forthcoming storytelling, the late group did perform for a third and final time a most amazing feat of theatre, going by the name of Great Expectations.


Our hero of thi…

Review of Great Expectations by The Royal & Derngate Actors Company at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

Market Boy from The Actors Company last year was a remarkable show and is likely to stay with me for a long time, so following it with this year's production was always going to be a tough call and with their production of the epic Dickens classic Great Expectations, they at least didn't lack ambition.

I have to be honest, things for me didn't start well. The first few minutes of this adaptation by Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod is a busy and convoluted sequence moving the opening part of the story in an unclear and often irritating way. For those present not aware of the original story, I wouldn't envy them trying to keep up with what is going on. However much of the trouble of this opening sequence is quickly corrected as scenes become more defined and controlled and the story is allowed to develop at a slower pace.

Perhaps also in the early part, it doesn't help either that the gender-swapped Magwitch played by Salli Bersham is a little too full on with the o…