The Mystery of Irma Vep and Other Plays

The Mystery of Irma Vep and Other Plays

by Charles Ludlum
     
 

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“Ludlam’s is a dazzling and significant body of work, and it should be accorded a place of greatest regard and honor in the American dramatic literary canon. The plays are funny, erudite, poetic, transgressive, erotic, moving, and so theatrical they seem the Platonic ideal of everything we mean when we use that word. The plays are the sublime

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Overview

“Ludlam’s is a dazzling and significant body of work, and it should be accorded a place of greatest regard and honor in the American dramatic literary canon. The plays are funny, erudite, poetic, transgressive, erotic, moving, and so theatrical they seem the Platonic ideal of everything we mean when we use that word. The plays are the sublime expressions of what Ludlam insisted was not an aesthetic, but a moral vision: anti-Puritan, unsentimentally utopian, sexually destabilizing—a transporting, a transcendence by means of deflation, a joyous and subversive, even dangerous revelry leading to revelation, a wise and ecstatic celebration of the world.” –Tony Kushner (from his Preface)

Artistic director, playwright, director, designer and star of New York's acclaimed Ridiculous Theatrical Company, the late Charles Ludlam ransacked theatrical and literary history in an evolutionary quest for a modern art of stage comedy. His more than 30 plays are among the most thought-provoking entertainments in the modern repertoire. As Ludlam himself put it, "This is farce, not Sunday school." This collection includes an introduction by Tony Kushner alongside Ludlam's most famous and celebrated works for the stage:

The Mystery of Irma Vep: Ludlam's most famous play, this is a hilarious send up of Daphne de Maurier, Jane Eyre and Victorian cross dressing. One of the most produced plays in the United States, The Mystery of Irma Vep is “the most perfect expression of Ludlam’s approach to theatre: a play that simultaneously provokes terror, laughter and a grotesque mockery of all gender, literary and special boundaries” (Village Voice).

Camille: based on La Dame aux Camélias, this satirical take on the tubercular courtesan brings any audience “to unexpected heights of pathos and laughter” (San Francisco Chronicle).

Galas: the life of opera singer Maria Callas imagined as a modern tragedy, in which Ludlam himself assayed the part of the diva.

Stage Blood: Ludlam's take on Shakespeare, with actors putting on Hamlet both on stage and back stage; somehow, in this tragedy, everything comes out for the best.

Bluebeard: somewhat based on H.G. Wells' Island of Dr. Moreau, Bluebeard tells the story of a mad vivisectionist in search of a third sex.

Charles Ludlam: Artistic director, playwright, director, designer and star of New York’s acclaimed Ridiculous Theatrical Company. During his twenty years with the Ridiculous, he won Obie and Drama Desk awards as well as playwriting fellowships from the Guggenheim, Rockefeller and Ford foundations and the National Endowment for the Arts. His more than thirty plays are among the most thought-provoking entertainments in the modern repertoire and continue to be widely performed throughout the world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Charles Ludlam is a valiant theatrical renaissance man.” –Frank Rich, New York Times

“The theatre of parody and travesty became art in the plays of Charles Ludlam, a writer and comedian who manifested in his many plays a truly Aristophanic joy, precision, wit, and shamelessness.”- Donald Lyons, Wall Street Journal

“Far from shying away from theatrical cliches, Ludlam indulges them to the dizzy limit; the familiar becomes the outrageous, and the result is good farce.” –Chicago Reader

The Mystery of Irma Vep is the most perfect expression of Ludlam’s approach to theatre: a play that simultaneously provokes terror, laughter and a grotesque mockery of all gender, literary and special boundaries.” –Michael Feingold, Village Voice

“Charles Ludlam's manic, ingenious gothic spoof The Mystery of Irma Vep may be the late author's most delightful creation, a tour de force for two actors that piles on the preposterous plot twists while spewing out a dizzying spray of high- and low-culture in-jokes…exquisitely silly.” –Charles Isherwood, Variety

“Bawdy, rip-roaring comedy, scintillating drama and plot twists that involve vampires, werewolves and men in drag, The Mystery of Irma Vep serves up all this and more in a sidesplitting two-hour show.” –Chicago Theater Beat

“In Camille, Charles Ludlam’s hysterical way with the Lady of the Camellias takes the doomed Dumas and Verdi heroine—via George Cukor and Greta Garbo—to unexpected heights of pathos and laughter.” –San Francisco Chronicle

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781559361736
Publisher:
Theatre Communications Group
Publication date:
11/01/1999
Pages:
300
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.80(d)

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Meet the Author

Charles Ludlam: Artistic director, playwright, director, designer and star of New York’s acclaimed Ridiculous Theatrical Company. During his twenty years with the Ridiculous, he won Obie and Drama Desk awards as well as playwriting fellowships from the Guggenheim, Rockefeller and Ford foundations and the National Endowment for the Arts. His more than thirty plays are among the most thought-provoking entertainments in the modern repertoire and continue to be widely performed throughout the world.

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