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The Mystery of Irma Vep

Presented by Silo Theatre
Auckland, New Zealand, 9 November-15 December 2007,
extended to 22 December 2007;
written by Charles Ludlam; directed by Jennifer Ward-Lealand


Michael as Lady Enid; Oliver Driver as Jane

Nicodemus Underwood
Lady Enid Hillcrest
Pev Amri
  Michael Hurst
Jane Twisden*
Lord Edgar Hillcrest*
  Oliver Driver
Valiant Muso & Everything Else
  Jason Smith
  Jennifer Ward-Lealand
Set Design
  John Verryt
Costume Design
  Elizabeth Whiting
Lighting Design
  Andrew Malmo
Sound Design & Composition
  Jason Smith
*played by Trygve Wakenshaw for 5 performances

Michael Hurst and Oliver Driver each played multiple roles in Charles Ludlam's The Mystery of Irma Vep in a fantastically successful production at the Silo Theatre.  

The sold-out season which began 9 November was extended to 22 December 2007.  

Jennifer Ward-Lealand directed, and composer/musician Jason Smith provided live music and sound effects for the show.  Trygve Wakenshaw appeared for Oliver Driver for five performances.



"Who – or what – is IRMA VEP?

A werewolf, a mummy, a vampire, insomnia, prosthetic limbs, silly walks, a really big mystery, vaudeville and melodrama. Two of our greatest theatrical show-offs turn themselves inside out in an outrageous parody of the gothic penny dreadful.

This velcro-ripping, bodice-busting romp takes satiric swipes at Victorian novels, B-grade Hollywood flicks, and the very process of entertainment itself"

Michael as Nicodemus; Oliver as Lord Hillcrest

Michael as Lady Enid; Oliver as Lord Hillcrest

Oliver as Jane

Michael as Nicodemus; Oliver as Jane

(photos this page: Frith Walker)
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Listener on the best of New Zealand theatre 2007:  "Best Fun Silo's The Mystery of Irma Vep with dazzling show-offs Oliver Driver and Michael Hurst cross-dressing and corpsing" (Natasha Hay).


NZ Herald:  " . . . for my money, Hurst was the comedy knock-out of the night thanks to his combination of serious acting chops and silly physical humour."

National Radio:  "It's played by two of our best comedy actors; well, two of our best actors actually"; " . . . a tour de force for the two actors";  "I haven't laughed so much in ages.  Delicious physical comedy.   Wonderful".

Metro{LIVE}:  "As a comic duo, Driver and Hurst are inspired.  Their pairing recalls Crosby and Hope, Abbot and Costello and Morecombe and Wise".

theatreview.co.nz:  "These guys, 'two of the country's greatest theatrical show-offs', are in their element in this camp gothic parody . . .  The quintessential duo obviously enjoy themselves as thoroughly as their audience do.  Taking the mickey out of theatre itself, Irma Vep takes dark, brooding melodrama to hilarious extremes".

Listener:  "Driver and Hurst are utterly brilliant.  . . . It's gaspingly good fun".

New Zealand Herald preview:  "Ludlam stipulated that two actors of the same sex must portray the play's eight characters.  . . . Technically that equates to making around 60 costume changes, taking no more than 20 seconds each, in the 80-minute show.  So energetic are the performances that Driver and Hurst doubt the point of wearing stage make-up.  'It will just get rubbed off with all the costume changes or melt,' says Hurst".

Nightline on TV3 did a feature on Irma Vep on 22 November 2007 that included snippets from the show; click here to watch it.

Michael and Oliver appeared on the TV3 program Sunrise to talk about the play on 9 November 2007; watch the video online here.

Michael talked about the show on bFM's Sunday Breakfast on 4 November 2007; listen to that interview here.