Oscar and Shiffman Star in Quick-Change Comedy Irma Vep in DC

News   Oscar and Shiffman Star in Quick-Change Comedy Irma Vep in DC Tony Award nominee Brad Oscar, never afraid to chomp into juicy roles, tackles multiple parts — as does co-star J. Fred Shiffman — in Arena Stage's new production of Charles Ludlam's frenzied two-actor comedy The Mystery of Irma Vep, June 6-July 13 in Washington, DC.
Brad Oscar and J. Fred Shiffman in The Mystery of Irma Vep.
Brad Oscar and J. Fred Shiffman in The Mystery of Irma Vep.

Rebecca Bayla Taichman directs "this clever, quick-change marathon [that] ransacks literary, cinematic and pop culture as it satirizes everything from Hitchcock's 'Rebecca' and classic horror film 'The Mummy's Curse' to 'Wuthering Heights' and Shakespeare," according to Arena. The Mystery of Irma Vep plays at Arena Stage in Crystal City, in Arlington, VA, a temporary home for Arena while its HQ is being refurbished. Opening is June 12.

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Oscar (Broadway's Spamalot and The Producers, Arena's Cabaret and Damn Yankees) and Shiffman (The Arthur Miller Festival, She Loves Me, Cabaret) portray all of the characters — men, women and monsters — in this gender-bending, Obie Award-winning tour de force.

On a "dark and stormy night," Lady Enid, newly married to the controversial Lord Edgar, arrives at the large Hillcrest estate. She learns that here is where his late wife Irma Vep was murdered and that the estate is haunted by something that is prowling the moors.

When The Mystery of Irma Vep first premiered in 1984 at the Ridiculous Theatrical Company, Ludlam and his longtime partner Everett Quinton portrayed all of the characters. Ludlam wrote that he wanted to incorporate "the old vaudeville trick of the quick-change as the basis of the whole play." Irma Vep was also inspired by the "Penny Dreadful" — cheap 19th-century publications that featured sensational fiction.

For information, visit arenastage.org.