Sunday, October 07, 2007

Mauritius (The SOB Review)

Mauritius (The SOB Review) - Biltmore Theatre, New York, NY

***1/2 (out of ****)

Years ago -- about the time I was in the third grade and just having my appetite whetted for my lifelong interest in history -- I began collecting stamps.

Nothing serious, mind you. In fact, I’m quite confident if I dug up whatever it was I actually placed meticulously into my book, I’d surely find virtually nothing of value. That’s because like many passing fancies in our adolescence, I moved on to the next big thing.

If only I had known then what I know now.

Thanks to Theresa Rebeck’s surprisingly thrilling and highly entertaining Mauritius, I enjoyed a crash course in philately.

Thanks to Doug Hughes’ taut direction, Mauritius provides one of those exceptionally riveting, edge-of-your-seat theatrical experiences -- a veritable roller coaster ride of delicious deception that literally pulls no punches.

In fact, the play -- about two half-sisters arguing over the rightful ownership of a potentially invaluable stamp collection left behind by their now deceased mother -- packs quite a wallop that’s as rare in theatre as the collection’s two 19th Century stamps from Mauritius.

With a superb ensemble collection, Rebeck spins a diabolically delicious yarn -- aided by John Lee Beatty’s evolving set design -- about who lays authentic claim to the collection: Jackie (Alison Pill), who claims to have been given the stamps directly by her dying mother, or Mary (Katie Finneran), whose grandfather once owned the collection and shared his secrets and interest with his granddaughter until his death.

As desperately destitute Jackie, Pill scores with a truly extraordinary, breathtaking performance by inhabiting the darkest recesses of someone willing to sell her very soul for a shot at money. To say she delivers a nuanced portrayal would be an understatement. Pill only cements her reputation as Broadway's top young actress.

As Mary, a measured Finneran more than ably goes toe to toe with Pill. But the action extends to a trio of men whose lust for the holy grail of stamp collecting means that they’ll stop at virtually nothing to ensure they profit.

First, there’s Dennis (a charming, cunning Bobby Cannavale), whose dubious knowledge about authenticity never stands in his way of triangulating his alliances. Then there’s Sterling (a thoroughly menacing and maniacal F. Murray Abraham), who claims ownership of the stamps before any money has even been exchanged. And no one can lick the wimpy stamp authority (a sly Dylan Baker), who’s only to be underestimated at tremendous cost.

Mauritius scores on virtually every level and is one production that deserves to collect more than a few Tony nods. See it while you can.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:

Did Mauritius Merit Stamps Of Approval? (October 5, 2007)
Theresa Rebeck Collects First Broadway Opening Night With Mauritius (October 4, 2007)
From Manhattan To Mauritius (June 28, 2007)
Well, Well, Well, If It Isn't Boston... (June 9, 2006)

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At 07 October, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

See, didn't I say stamp collecting sounded like a riveting subject for a play! Like you, I remember carefully placing each stamp in my album. I think I still have it somewhere, but I know there's nothing valuable. Unfortunately, I got rid of the baseball cards long ago. ;-(

Seriously, I'm glad you liked it, especially since some of the other reviews I've read have been kind of lukewarm. I'm sorry I'll miss this one. Hopefully I'll get to see Alison Pill someday. And I've been a fan of Bobby Cannavale ever since I saw him in a movie called "The Station Agent." But I can't see everything, as much as I wish I could!

At 07 October, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Esther, Not long ago, I discovered that my parents kept my baseball card collection, which I do believe is of some value.

Alison Pill is an amazing talent. She has a bright future ahead of her.


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