The Mystery of Irma Vep Review

After months of anticipation, I finally got to see The Mystery of Irma Vep on stage at the Pieter Toerien Theatre at Montecasino and I was in hysterics.

 Get in the right mood by listening to this ambient music while reading this.

Opening Night

#IrmaVepSA Play
The kinds of attention to detail that does so much more than set the tone

I was invited to an exclusive gala evening that didn’t disappoint. The foyer was decorated in a spooky Victorian style, including a coffin with a mummy on display. The dimly lit reception was illuminated by candles that were scattered all over the place in true Victorian fashion. Speaking of fashion, the dress code for the evening was ‘Victorian Chic’. I love to dress up so I enjoyed that touch because not many shows worry about the dress code. For me, what you wear is just as much a part of the experience so I was keen to participate. Most people didn’t go all out but some people dressed to the nines wearing top hats and tailcoats or corsets and feathers, which really added to the experience.

Guests were welcomed with a complimentary programme, new Cadbury Roundie and glass of wine. After mingling with the other theatre-enthusiasts we were ushered to our seats in a dimly lit theatre accompanied by creepy music to set the mood.

The Play

The Mystery of Irma Vep is a satire of several theatrical, literary and film genres, including Victorian melodrama, farce, the penny dreadful, Wuthering Heights and the Alfred Hitchcock film, Rebecca.  

#IrmaVepSA Set
The Mystery of Irma Vep set as guests arrive

Set on a remote manor called Mandacrest, the audience soon finds out something is amiss. Between the horrors of a marauding beast terrorising the estate and the looming presence of the recently deceased former mistress Irma Vep, matters become awkward in the extreme for Lord Edgar and his new wife, Lady Enid.

The cast of two, Jonathan Roxmouth (The Phantom of the Opera, Sunset Boulevard, West Side Story) and Weslee Swain Lauder (Sweeney Todd, Call Me Lee, Starlight Express) play the 8 distinct characters in the story. Not only are these two actors extremely gifted performers but the swapping of characters and costumes was remarkable. Their comedic timing and overall performances had the crowd in stitches from beginning to end. The story is intriguing and hilarious at the same time, which makes for quite a unique experience.

The staging and blocking of each actor was coordinated impeccably as they seamlessly transitioned between luny characters. The intricate wardrobe design by Pierre du Plessis, scenic design by Nadine and Louis Minnaar and lighting design by Oliver Hauser played key roles in immersing the audience in the story.

The show came together flawlessly and was a real crowd pleaser. If you like to laugh, then you’ve got to see The Mystery of Irma Vep. The production will be on at Pieter Toerien’s Theatre at Montecasino from 5 to 30 July and at Theatre On The Bay in Cape Town from 2 to 19 August 2017. Make your booking at Computicket and like the production’s Facebook page while you’re at it. Be sure to use the play’s hashtag on social media – #IrmaVepSA.

#IrmaVepSA 2017

Have you seen the show? What were your thoughts?

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An Honest Review of Janice Honeyman’s 2016 Pantomime

I haven’t been to many pantomimes, but the ones I’ve been to I’ve enjoyed. Unfortunately, I’ve got to admit that this year’s Janice Honeyman production of Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood was a bit of a dud for me.

Theatre review

Wins:

The sets were incredibly done – something you can’t fault these productions on is the amount of work that goes into designing and creating the costumes, props, and sets. In terms of production, the play was top notch.

Reference to topical news – as we’ve all come to expect and love, the classic fairytale was brought to life with humour, and often made reference to recent news and pop culture in clever ways. Incorporating recognisable popular songs was also a lot of fun.

The villains were great – the characters were so over the top and hilarious that they really stole the show. More than the characters were the actors who brought them to life. Both the male and female villain were perfectly cast, which made all the difference.

Losses:

The storyline was weak and ridiculous – there was no even semi-logical format for the story. Not only that, but the story was unnecessarily complicated with ‘plot twists’ that didn’t make a significant impact to the story, while others could’ve easily been explained but weren’t. In addition, certain parts of the story were absolutely random. The main villain is conquered by the random appearance of characters from pop culture that he has a phobia of… Surely there are more creative ways of concluding the story.

Robin Hood was by no means a hero – although Robin Hood is the main character of the story, his merry men seemed to do most of the rescuing, and as mentioned, he didn’t defeat the main villain in the end either.

I’m all for productions aimed at a younger audience, but this year’s pantomime was a disappointment. That’s not to say there weren’t elements I enjoyed, but overall I expected more. Usually, there is something in it for children and adults alike, but Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood seemed to not quite fit into any category. Let’s see if Honeyman can defend her title as the pantomime queen in 2017’s production.

Final thoughts: If you go to watch the pantomime every year, go and see it, but lower your expectations. If it’s a first for you, rather give it a miss. 

Don’t Miss the Amazing Mo Magic!

After years as an Engineer, ‘Mo Magic’ decided to pursue his dream of entertaining by turning his passion into his full-time career. He now entertains audiences through magic, mentalism and comedy. Following the success of the weekly prime time TV show on SABC3, South African magician Mo has embarked on a nationwide theatre tour. From the 20 to 23 October 2016, Mo will be performing at The Fringe at The Joburg Theatre, and I was astounded by the show.

Mo Magic and Fantomdan
Mo even gives attendees the opportunity to meet him after the show!

Not only was I, along with a highly amused audience, genuinely amazed by the magic tricks he performed, but his personality was a key contributor to the show. His charming demeanour and witty sense of humour make the experience incredibly entertaining and engaging. Nothing about the 90-minute performance is predictable and will undoubtedly leave you astonished and amazed.

I also enjoyed the intimacy of the theatre. The Fringe, located at The Joburg Theatre, allows for a very personable experience, which is exactly why Mo started his theatre tour. The size of the space is perfect for seeing everything that happens on stage, without feeling closed in. I always dread shows that involve audience participation, but if you were selected, you were not embarrassed or made a fool of at all.

I’m glad Mo decided to leave the engineering profession because show business is definitely his calling. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the performance so don’t miss the opportunity to see the show! It’s running for a limited time only so if you’re looking for a night of magic, mentalism and comedy, Mo Magic is a must.

Tickets for Mo Magic cost R150 per person and can be purchased through www.webtickets.co.za or www.joburgtheatre.com. If you use the word “Magic” when ordering, you get R50 off your purchase! No under 6’s permitted and no admittance after the performance has begun. The show runs from Thursday to Saturday at 19h30 with a Sunday matinee at 14h00. The Fringe at Joburg Theatre is located at 163 Civic Boulevard, Braamfontein.

Visit www.momagic.co.za for more information. Also, be sure to follow him on social media.

Mo Magic Joburg