Sunday, October 27, 2013



Garry Marshall’s Falcon Playhouse is a gem.  One hundred and thirty seats. A mini-Mark Taper Forum.  Set in the heart of Toluca Lake, the modified thrust stage puts every member of the audience close to the play and in Charles Ludlam’s The Mystery of Irma Vep the action is sometimes practically in our lap.

I love the theatre lingo ‘Two Hander.”  This Two Hander has the splendid twosome of Matthew Floyd Miller and Jamie Torcellini literally running for two full acts.  The action is hilarious and the message is … well.. there may not be a message, but it’s still hilarious.  Two actors and a bevy of characters, each singular and well defined. 

‘Jane Twisden’ (Matthew Floyd Miller) and ‘Lady Enid’ (Jamie Torcellini) in The Mystery of Irma Vep at the Falcon Theatre.  Photo by Chelsea Sutton

Director Jenny Sullivan has staged Vep before and the experience shows.   When Miller as Jane Twisden, the prime and proper House Keeper, makes ‘her’ first floating cross, it sets the stage for laughter and if one can follow the somewhat elaborate plot (or even if one can’t) the action to the word, the word to the action, it’s just plain fun.

Lady Enid Hillcrest (Torcellini) has come to live in Sir Edgar Hillcrest’s (Miller) lavish estate. She is an actress! She is dramatique! She is troubled by the portrait of Edgar’s now deceased former wife, Irma Vep, hanging over the well appointed mantel.  (Thomas S. Giamario’s scenic design and lighting are perfect!) Quick costume changes allow for Jane to rush out and return moments later as Sir Edgar, having trouble with his mustache.  The passionate “Edgar?” “Enid..”  “Edgar!!” “Enid!!” “EDGAR!!!”  “ENID!!!......”  is priceless. 

Story meanders to the audience’s delight with a trip to Egypt after the act break.     Elaborate costumes by Alex Jaeger allow the two talented actors quick changes and the action never stops.  Torcellini as Nicodemus Underwood (with a wooden leg and a limp) reminded me of Uncle Fester of The Addams Family.    

Playwright Charles Ludlam (Not to be confused with Charles Busch, as Busch often wrote plays for himself to play the female lead) was reported in the notes to have penned many of these two handers that he performed with his long time companion Everett Quinton.  Puns and silly references abound.    Giamario’s lights and David Beaudry’s sound effects become characters all their own, but it’s still a two person play!  Sullivan’s brilliant direction keeps the show moving a pace.  Hidden panels and a mythical critter round out the romp.

For a totally enjoyable evening that will leave you gasping slightly for breath and wondering how these two performers manage to keep the pace and the laughter going…   See This One. 

THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP (a penny dreadful)
By Charles Ludlam
The Falcon Theatre
4252 Riverside Drive
Burbank, CA 91505
Opens October 25, 2013
Closes Sunday November 17, 2013
Performances Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8PM
Sundays at 4PM
Tickets: 818 955 8101 or

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