Tag Archives: Stuart Horobin

Camptastic!

THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP

Blue Orange Theatre, Birmingham, Friday 3rd May, 2019

 

Charles Ludlam’s camp classic is more well-known in the USA than on this side of the pond.  A two-hander that parodies Victorian melodrama, Gothic romances, and creaky old horror films, this is a chance for a pair of actors to showcase their versatility and, equally importantly, their quick-change skills.  Lady Enid, second wife to Lord Edgar, pries into the history of the family estate of Mandacrest.  She unearths a tale of vampires, werewolves and Egyptology, while beyond the French windows, a wolf preys on lambs, spreading terror…

Stuart Horobin is great as stuffy Lord Edgar, more tweed than man, clinging to the memories of his late first wife.  Horobin throws himself into his roles with gusto: Edgar conjuring a long-dead Egyptian queen, for example; or as dour housekeeper Jane, serving up huge dollops of exposition.

He is joined by Darren Haywood, his match in wide-eyed histrionics.  Haywood is a hoot as stable man Nicodemus, stumping around on a ‘wooden’ leg, and he’s magnificent as the lip-quivering Lady Enid.  His appearance as the reincarnated mummy is a highlight – in fact, whenever he’s on stage, which is most of the time, he delivers, in a consistently funny performance that is a real treat to behold.

Both actors handle the florid verbiage Ludlam liberally doles out with conviction.  The dialogue paraphrases the likes of Shakespeare, Wilde and Poe and is riddled with daftness and peppered with some choice double entendres – I could always do with more of these.  Ludlam’s script comes across as somewhat patchy but director Simon Ravenhill keeps the laughs coming with some delicious bits of comic business.  Nicodemus screwing his wooden leg back on, for example, or the hilariously pedestrian werewolf transformation scene.

In the end, it’s the playing not the material that proves the more entertaining.  Not so much Hammer, as Sledgehammer Horror, this is a case of the high quality of the production compensating for any weakness in the script, making for a hugely entertaining evening that deserves to be seen by greater numbers.

irma vep

Darren Haywood in a publicity shot

 

 

 

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Getting Wood

NIGHT OF THE BRIDE OF PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE

The Blue Orange Theatre, Birmingham, Thursday 1st September, 2016

 

Writer-director Simon Ravenhill cobbles together scenes and characters from three films by the infamous director Ed Wood.  Three of the worst films ever made.  Alien invasions, raising the dead, mad scientists, and an atomic octopus all rub along together in this madcap comedy in which a cast of five rush around to populate the stage with a range of characters.

It is an absolute scream.  Melodramatic and camp in the extreme, the show uses Wood’s inarticulate sensationalism to intentionally comic effect.  Here we laugh with them rather than at Wood’s ineptitude.  It’s a gloriously funny show that subverts the crapness of its origins into slick and silly slapstick.

Simon Garrington appeals as handsome hunk of a leading man Dick, who has trouble keeping his shirt on.  Stuart Horobin impresses as mad scientist Vornoff and army colonel Edwards.  Kaz Luckins stalks hilariously across the stage behind long fingernails as a vampish ghoul.  Richard Nunn makes a remarkably eloquent grunting zombie.  But it’s Rebecca Rochelle who absolutely shines as leading lady Janet, replicating the style of the B-movies with every arch of her eyebrow.  The cast manage to instil energy into Wood’s risible dialogue and throw themselves around with gusto, pulling off quick changes and a variety of broad characterisations that emulate the quirks and mannerisms of the films’ original casts.  There is a lot of desk-slapping and heightened posturing.  What Wood’s actors did from lack of talent, Ravenill’s accomplish with aplomb.

Ravenhill wrings laughs out of every second, keeping proceedings on the right side of shonky.  Video projections complement the action and add to the fun.  And I absolutely loved the ray gun fashioned from a blender.  It’s a show that rejoices in its source material, pulling off with skill and talent what Ed Wood did unintentionally.

A sheer delight from start to finish, this production deserves a bigger audience and a longer life.  Running until September 10th, there are still tickets available from blueorangetheatre.co.uk or 0121 212 2643

Plan-9

 

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