The experience left us breathless. We had no idea of the whirlwind
we’d encounter when we stepped into Iao Theater last Sunday, Nov. 26,
for a performance of The Mystery of Irma Vep, presented by Maui
OnStage. Originally written by Charles Ludlum, the play featured two
actors—Tom Althouse and Alexander Cardinalli—in a dizzying and
gender-bending eight roles. Afterwards, we discussed what we saw.
KRISTA SHERER: It definitely
was vaudevillian. And I like that they quoted a lot of Shakespeare—as
well as “The Raven”—but there was a lot I didn’t get. There were a lot
of different types of humor going on there.
SAMANTHA CAMPOS: Well, yeah.
That’s ‘cause the play was originally written as a satire of several
different genres—Hitchcockian mystery, Gothic horror, Victorian
melodrama. It was a madcap of styles, really.
SHERER: I actually think I
enjoyed it a lot more than you. But I am a closet theater geek. I
really love the stage and it is one of the oldest art forms—everything
comes from playwriting. I did feel the overacting was a little
CAMPOS: See, I liked that.
When the plot would start to confuse me, the over-the-top acting pulled
me back into it. It’s the campiness that won me over!
SHERER: I agree with you
that the plot was almost too intricate. Their chase scenes were
something out of Scooby Doo. And then when they carried out the dummy
and “accidentally” slammed it against the wall—it was such simple,
CAMPOS: Oh, I loved that! I actually thought it was quite sophisticated.
SHERER: And I got really
confused with that masked ghost-skeleton thing—like, what the hell was
that? I got the vampire, the ghost and the werewolf, but I just didn’t
know what that other thing was. But I do have to give them thumbs-up
for a complicated plot with two actors performing eight roles and for
compensating with the lighting and sound effects, as well as their
ability to be so animated. I think they did a fantastic job.
CAMPOS: Definitely. I was
spellbound by how quickly they changed gears—and costumes—and never
broke out of character. It was like they needed absolutely no
transition time to be eight different people. Very impressive.
SHERER: I do have to say,
the extreme flamboyance of Alcazar’s character—while funny, I just felt
it was unnecessary. But Lord Edgar was totally captivating, like a
mixture of Will Farrell and Ben Stiller with his facial expressions and
CAMPOS: Okay, I didn’t dig
that character so much. The accent—it was much too Cary Grant for me.
But I very much enjoyed the dramatics of Lady Enid—that jazz hands
fabulousness of her mime-tastic storytelling slayed me.
SHERER: I did like that
there was a fine-tuned balance between the two actors—they shared the
stage, giving each other the room to capture the audience. I found
myself drawn into one, and then the other. And I loved the duet they
sang with the `ukulele. I thought it was cute.
CAMPOS: I loved that too but
wondered about the significance. Like, there was just so much going on,
you know? What’s next—a dancing monkey?
SHERER: Well, anyway, they
were highly skillful thespians. I think that’s a good example of what
thespians are—they were giving examples of what the art form is. And
the tongue-in-cheek dialogue mixed with slapstick physicality was very
effective. It was entertaining. And very funny.
CAMPOS: You just wanted to say “thespians.”
SHERER: I did. MTW