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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/

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