Magic Smoking Money Theatre's effort really paid off.
After a gruelling 16-hour journey from London to St Louis, Missouri via a 5-hour wait in Chicago, I arrived for the Vincentennial (now on its third day - but my first) and thought I'd fall asleep during the performance. But I didn't get the chance as the theatre troupe's comic take on Vinnie's cult film had me in stitches.
Taking their cues from the film's original script, which I know word perfect myself, MSM throw in all manner of comic touches (some inventive, some cliché) in a tightly-constructed production that clocks in just at just over a hour and 15minutes.
Having some knowledge of the film is a bonus, as much of the comedy comes from parodying the film's original performances. No more so that Luke Lindberg's Vesalius. His take on Phibes' nemesis, played by Joseph Cotton in the film, is joyously hammy, perfectly capturing the original film's tongue-in-cheek nature. Meanwhile, Jaysen Cryer gets my vote for the evening's most OTT performance. As Vesalius's son Lem, he reminded me of a pre-adolescent version of Glee's Kurt suffering from Attention Defective Disorder. Another worthy mention is Scott McMaster who plays all the victims (his big-breasted Nurse Allen was a real audience favourite).
The deaths are pure pantomime, with some working better than others. My favourite was Kitai's death by rats (actually cute hand puppets), while Nurse Allen's cockroach-infested face (I got one on my lap) was a scream.
Having pulled this production together in just over a fortnight, MSM should be commended. With a little more tweaks and a few more dashes of the surreal (Cryer's man in a bat suit doing a lap dance on Dr Dun-Woody [chuckle] was a taste of that), this production could have a life outside this week's Vincentennial celebrations. Tone down the swearing and it could even be taken into local schools. Now that would a great way to celebrate a cult classic and the memory of Vincent Price. Thanks guys (and girls) for a great show.
If you love Price, Dr Phibes and spoofs, then don't forget to also check out Vincent Resurrectus: Riddle of the Maps, another fan-made homage that's available to watch on YouTube.