'The Mystery of Irma Vep'

When a blood-sucking vampire, a peg-legged werewolf, a female mummy, a vengeful servant, and an innocent bride congregate in a Victorian mansion on the moors on a dark and stormy night, it can only be "The Mystery of Irma Vep," Charles Lulam's delightful gothic spoof, now playing at the Oregon Cabaret Theater.

Deep dark secrets of Mandacrest manor are revealed as Jane, the sinister maid, dodges the amorous advances of Nicodemus, the peg-legged servant. Her vacant stare and alabaster pursed lips indicate that evil lurks.

Lord Edgar, a famous Egyptologist, has come home to the manor with his new wife, Lady Enid. Above the fireplace of the Victorian drawing room the portrait of Lord Edgar's late wife, Irma Vep, (anagram for vampire) comes to life, and a werewolf runs amok on the heath.

Lord Edgar is off to Egypt to bring home a mummy; Lady Enid is bitten by a vampire; secret panels reveal hidden dungeons; and an ancient Egyptian princess is resurrected — as the plot thickens.

Masterfully staged by Pat Patton, eight zany characters (a cast of two) cavort through this satire on the genres of horror and mystery. "The Mystery of Irma Vep" is a tour de force for two talented actors: Douglas Reynolds and Christopher Bange. Both actors are masters of comedy with deadpan delivery which heightens the hilarity.

Kerri Lea Robbins' iconic costumes bring constant surprises of wit and imagination as each actor plays four distinct roles in this fast paced farce, with split-second costume, character, and gender changes along with hair-pin exits and entrances in this sumptuous romp.

There is one incredulous scene in which the werewolf vanquishes his comely victim, through slight of hand. Christopher Bange nimbly plays the victim and the predator in a flurry of props and costumes, gloves wigs and masks.

The elegant set, designed by Craig Hudson, shifts from a highly polished mahogany drawing room to an ancient Egyptian tomb sporting comic book hieroglyphics, which are a recurring hoot.

The evening is well-executed and totally madcap. If you can imagine "Macbeth" through the lens of Busby Berkeley, with Charlie Chaplin, Carman Miranda, and the Marx Brothers in the cast, you might just invoke the flavor of the evening.

"The Mystery of Irma Vep" runs at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays with brunch matinees at 1 p.m. Sundays through May 31.

Share This Story