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Review: The Mystery of Irma Vep and Mistakes Were Made

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Sacramento Theater Company is presenting a play called "The Mystery of Irma Vep," something that sounds more appropriate for Halloween than the holidays.  The setting is a gloomy manor in the English countryside. The story involves a werewolf, a vampire, and an Egyptian mummy. But make no mistake… this "mystery" is really a campy spoof.

Ben: "Someday, Janie, my girl, you're going to smile on me."

Greg: "Yeah, when hell freezes over and little devils go ice skating."
Ben: "If I was cleaned up and had a new white collar and smelled of bay rum and Florida water, you'd think different."
Greg: "Don't go getting ideas about me. You are beneath me, and beneath me you are going to stay."
Ben: "Well, someday you may want to get beneath me. (Ha ha)."
Greg: "How dare you speak to me in such a manner!"
High energy performances by Greg Alexander and Ben Ismail, in and out of drag, make this play silly fun for grownups. So lean back and enjoy as the boys go over the top with well-timed corny lines and sexual ambiguity.
Over at Capital Stage, they're doing an equally outrageous comedy called "Mistakes Were Made."
It's about a small-time theater agent trying to produce an original play -- a costume drama set during the French Revolution. But the difficult actor who is supposed to be the star wants revisions in the script. And the playwright won't change a word.
The humor comes from watching the miserable agent - tethered to a telephone, with people on hold - as he pleads and wheedles in a desperate effort to salvage the doomed deal.
Eric Wheeler: "I am on the phone with the biggest movie star on earth, Esther. Who is it?
Secretary: It's Mr. Wassercotch, and he's…
Eric: Tell weeping Oscar Wassercotch that I am on the phone with Johnny Bledsoe right this very moment, and I will call him when I know something substantive… Leave me alone!"
Secretary: "Yes, Mr. Artifex…"
This show features a high strung demolition derby performance by actor Eric Wheeler, who never stops talking, and seldom gets to complete a thought. Its 90 minutes of nonstop interruptions and frustrations, as one thing after another goes wrong. It's the kind of show that just might appeal to audiences stressed-out by the year-end grind. We get to enjoy a relentless monologue by a character whose life situation is hilariously worse than our own.
Capital Stage's Mistakes were Made and Sacramento Theatre Company's The Mystery of Irma Vep both continue through Dec. 16th.
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