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The Mystery of Irma Vep

It’s been 18 years since this manor mystery was the No. 1–produced play in America, and it hasn’t worn out its welcome. In a dreary, rural house, the widowed master (Kevin Remington) has brought home a bride (Michael Lorre), a tremulous blond actress who might not have the wits to survive the local vampires and werewolves (or the grudging maid and infatuated stable boy). Charles Ludlam’s fleet-footed thriller comedy is in the key of camp, but this production tampers down the winks and nudges, staging it as an exercise in theatrical imagination. Lorre’s sparse set design is a model of how to turn a small budget into an asset. The furniture and decorations are drawn with thin, white lines on flat, black-painted wood, and the actors set the tone by first finishing the final touches with chalk. Irma Vep is always staged as a play for two performers, and Remington and Lorre (who also directs) are great sports, changing from a bumpkin with a wooden leg to a bare-breasted Egyptian princess in less time than it takes to tie your shoes. The actors’ physicality is great, but dresser Henry Senecal and stage manager Akemi Okamura also take deserved bows at the end. WeHo Church, 916 N. Formosa Ave., Hlywd; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; through Oct. 11. (323) 667-1304. A Deconstructed Productions production.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 4 p.m. Starts: Sept. 24. Continues through Oct. 18, 2009

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