BWW Review: THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP at Southwest Shakespeare Company
Live theater is full of joy, surprises, and unscripted moments between the players that cannot be anticipated until an audience is present. The Mystery of Irma Vep is a dramatization of the popular Penny Dreadfuls of the 1830s. With two actors playing all the roles, hilarity ensues as the characters overlap in the narrative.
Quinn Mattfeld graces the stage as Jane, Lord Edgar, and an "intruder". It is impressive to see an actor morph into different roles, master the accents, and the mannerisms of each character. Mattfeld is a master of comedy, not only with his timing, but also with his wry delivery. He is also expert at improvisation. My only disappointment is not being able to see the show every night to see how it plays out. The show as a whole is fantastic, but watching Mattfeld and Mugavero create comedy together is spectacular. There were several unscripted moments that occurred throughout the show that left my stomach aching from laughter.
Betsy Mugavero plays a man with a limp, a newly married, former stage actress, and Alcazar. She also uses several accents, and displays unique precision with the dulcimer-kazoo instrument. It's no surprise that she shares chemistry with Mattfeld, but Mugavero owns the stage every second she is on it. Each character she has created has a unique physical presence, even when her character forgets he has a limp. The show will be different every night and I wish I could be there to see it.
The play moves quickly, especially for the crew running ragged backstage. The crew is to be applauded for keeping the quick changes quick and adding to the humor when called upon to do so. This play is laugh out loud funny from beginning to end. There are several twists and turns, which add to the hilarity.
The Mystery of Irma Vep is campy and entertaining, and the perfect juxtaposition for Macbeth which is also playing at Southwest Shakespeare. Directed by Patrick Walsh, The Mystery of Irma Vep plays through November 9 at the Mesa Arts Center and is not to be missed. It is ideal viewing for the Halloween season, or any other time of the year. Tickets can be purchased here. Seriously, do not miss it.
Photo Credit: Devon Smith & Stacey Walston