The obvious challenge with doing a show like The Mystery of Irma Vep is the quick changes between characters. On face value, the physical costume changes are something that fills me with an odd mixture of excitement and dread. When we did our first read-through of the script, I looked on in shock at certain scenes that required me to walk off stage, change costume, and walk back out in the space of seconds! The more we have rehearsed though: that shock has not subsided. It's insane! Thankfully, we have been assured that instead of the usual backstage crew you would find at the theatre, we have assembled a crew who won’t worry about the set, but instead worry about us and our costumes.
The other challenges that aren’t as visible to the audience are the internal changes we have to manage, with changing characters to go with the costumes. Switching between male and female, high class and servant, rich and poor. Every character requires their own voice, their own physicality, their own "thing". It's by far the most challenging play I've been involved in, for that reason alone. To play numerous characters in an ensemble is one thing - one scene you may be a policeman, two scenes later you're walking across a street scene as a businessman, the next you may be in a musical number dressed as a penguin in a tutu. But this demands so much more. Going back and forth between the four characters, referring to something you may have done or said as another character... You very quickly lose yourself within the show. And you just run with it!
The rehearsal process for this has been a lot of fun - Jonathan has been brilliant to bounce off. He has great comic timing, which makes me want to bring my A-game every time I'm on stage with him. I can't wait to get an audience in front of us to see what he does! He still makes me laugh, and I'm sure he will have the audience in stitches. I'd never heard of The Mystery of Irma Vep before the audition, and I hadn't had the opportunity to work with Beaumaris Theatre before. I'm so glad I have found both. Now, I really should learn my lines... I've never had to learn half a script before!
Patt Ryan, Actor