Charles Ludlam’s satirical masterpiece, The Mystery of Irma Vep tells the story of leading Egyptologist Lord Edgar and his new wife, Lady Enid, both of whom must contend with the tragic and haunting figure of Irma Vep, Lord Edgar’s late first wife. But this is not the only thing amiss at the gothic mansion of Mandacrest Estate. Jane, the acerbic maid, remains devoted to the memory of her former mistress, and the groundskeeper, Nicodemus has secrets of his own. Throw in some werewolves, vampires, mummies, and all things that go bump in the night — played by two actors in some 35 quick changes and you’ve got one hysterical farce!!! This show will keep you in stitches right up to the final twist!

The Mystery of Irma Vep, directed by Amy E. Sousa, runs Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at Key City Public Theatre from June 18, 2015 through July 19, 2015.

Unique Comic Style

Ludlam’s theatrical style focused on spectacle and entertainment, rather than gritty realism. In his work he was known to mix references from both high art and pop culture. Ludlam called The Mystery of Irma Vep, “A Penny Dreadful.” Inspired by nineteenth century pulp serial stories, Ludlam wanted to bring to life the lurid, the sensational, and the ridiculous. According to Ludlam, the “slant was actually to take things very seriously, especially focusing on those things held in low esteem by society and revaluing them, giving them new meaning, new worth, by changing their context.” That is why within the show you will hear references from such diverse sources as Shakespeare, Hitchcock, Ibsen, Shaw, Boris Karloff in The Mummy, Chekhov, Poe, silent film and more… see if you can catch them all!

Pulling Out All the Stops

One of the unspoken tenets of Ludlam’s theater is that not only should the story be outlandish but the productions themselves should be over the top. The Mystery of Irma Vep, which requires a small army backstage to pull off over 35 costume changes, is no exception.

Director Sousa comments, “Irma Vep is such a technically-challenging show that there will be more people backstage than onstage. With this particular play, the production crew usually receives a bow at the end because they put in as much work as the actors do!”

This talented crew includes veteran Set Designer David Langley, whose work audiences might recognize from KCPT’s 2013 production of Heartbreak House, Costume Designer Libby Urner, Lighting Designer Karen Anderson, Sound Designer Johanna Melamed…plus the fabulous backstage crew!!!

Cruise Shows


This season, KCPT has partnered with Puget Sound Express to offer a new and exciting way to get to the playhouse — by boat! On Thursday, July 9th theater patrons are invited to board a Puget Sound Express boat at Port Ludlow Marina and cruise to Key City Playhouse to attend a 7:30 performance of The Mystery of Irma Vep. More information at or by calling (360) 385-5278.

Tickets for each Key City Cruise are $65/person (includes the play, the cruise, and onboard refreshments during the scenic round trip). Tickets are available at the playhouse box office at 360-385-KCPT (5278), or online at

Check for pre-cruise or post-cruise meal specials at The Fireside Restaurant at the Resort at Port Ludlow, information and reservations at 360-437-7412