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Mauritius

CATEGORY : DRAMA
by Theresa Rebeck

COMPANY : Actor's Express [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Actor's Express [WEBSITE]
ID# 3286

SHOWING : January 22, 2009 - February 21, 2009

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

A young woman inherits a priceless stamp. When she tries to sell it, a simple transaction erupts into a high-stakes game of cat and mouse. Throw in three shady collectors and a jealous sister and the scam is in motion. The only question is: who’s conning whom? This spellbinding, exhilarating roller coaster of a play will keep you guessing until the final flip. Chris Kayser (AE’s Thom Pain Based on Nothing), Richard Garner (Georgia Shakespeare Artistic Director, AE’s Blue/Orange) and Kathleen Wattis (AE’s Rescue and Recovery) lead an all-star Atlanta cast through the most fun plot twists you’ll find in Atlanta all season.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Freddie Ashley
Scenic Designer Tommy Cox
Costume Designer Ashley Holmes Reeves
Composer J.C. Long
Lighting and Sound Designer Joseph P. Monaghan III
Dennis Bryan Brendle
Sterling Chris Kayser
Jackie Cara Mantella
Mary Kathleen Wattis
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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Two Slips of Paper
by Dedalus
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
5.0
Chris Kayser must be the most menacing presence I’ve seen on any stage. He can take a long, seemingly rambling monologue of courage and philately and make me fear for my life. Even with me in the back of the house.

Theresa Rebeck’s “Mauritius” is a fast-paced thriller, filled with surprise and sudden violence, which nevertheless impresses most with its character-specific dialog and its quirkily obsessive plotting. It deals with family tragedy, with violent betrayal, with long-standing grudges, and with stamps. Jackie (a luminous Cara Mantella) has come across a stamp collection in her late mother’s effects. Her half-sister Mary (a beautifully just-want-to-bitchslap-her Kathleen Wattis) claims them as her own, since they were the possession of HER grandfather (not Jackie’s), and her fondest memories were of obsessing over them with that too-beloved-to-be-true grandfather (she says). Buried in the collection are two pristine “Post Office Mauritius” stamps, of incalculable value, if authentic. Throw into the mix three shady stamp dealers (Bryan Brendle, all youthful impulse, Richard Garner, all oldful resentment, and Chris Kayser, all ticking-bombful threat), and you have the set-up for a beautifully realized, beautifully produced play that had me on the edge of my seat.

Is Jackie as fragile and naïve as she pretends? There is an obvious con going on (unless there isn’t), but it’s refreshingly unclear who is conning whom (and why). Can Mary possible be as selfish as she appears to Jackie (and us)? We know that Sterling (Mr. Kayser) has a shady past and is prone to fits of sudden violence. So where does his respect come from when Jackie displays late-in-the-game negotiating skill and (apparent) backbone? Did Mary’s Grandfather really NOT sell his prize Mauritius stamps to FDR or is that just another lie? Who was that comic book collector who sent Jackie to Philip (Mr. Garner)? And wasn’t it a tad convenient that Dennis (Mr. Brendle) just happened to be at Philip’s seedy shop when Jackie just happened to stop by? On the other hand, coincidences and accidents happen all the time. Don’t they?

It’s a testament to this production (and this cast) that I cared about the answer to these (and other) questions and fleeting suspicions while watching this play. As character and background is slowly revealed, it comes not as a contrived twist-of-plot, but as an ongoing pleasure at the “evolution” of character and story only hinted at, as ongoing satisfaction at how questions are answered or ignored. It’s a pleasure seeing five unique characters played by five unique actors telling a unique story that is tense, surprising, and, ultimately, satisfying. And it’s about stamps!

It’s a beautiful looking production. Act One cycles through three different sets with a few well-designed walls changing the character of the locale while making it seem not overly compartmental or “busy.” Act Two zeroes in on Philip’s shop, grabs us by the gut and never lets go. It’s a well-constructed design that gracefully serves the playwright’s set-up and pay-off that works in every way.

So what we have here is a well-crafted and entertaining thriller about desperate people stumbling upon outrageous fortune and behaving very badly to get what they positively absolutely no-questions-asked must have. It is directed by Freddie Ashley at a pace that spins the head and dazzles the mind. It is filled with dialog that twists and crackles and drifts and digresses and seems as if it were written by a real person for real people to speak. And it sparkles with moments of sheer delight – can there ever be a more beatific expression on the face of a truly vicious character as when Mr. Kayser actually gets to touch the precious slips of paper, stroking them with a sensual pleasure that is menacing, disturbing, and moving all at the same time?

For my part, I don’t think I’ll ever look at postage with the same with the same casual disinterest again.

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)

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Mauritius a Rare Find
by uppermiddlebrow
Monday, January 26, 2009
5.0
Actors Express brings us an excellent production of Theresa Rebeck's "Mauritius": the fresh, vibrant writing and tight directing bring out exciting performances from some of Atlanta's finest actors, especially from the women. Cara Mantella is quietly sexy as a damaged girl next door fighting to salvage herself from family dysfunction and Kathleen Wattis is magnetic and infuriating as the manipulative ice-maidenly half-sister. The play is funny and touching in ways reminiscent of Joe Orton and David Mamet. Chris Kayser pretty much reprises his Glengarry Glenross character here, to great effect. Richard Garner as the bitter-and-twisted stamp nerd is a neat counterpoint to the driven characters around him, with the hyper-active Bryan Brendle champing at the bit for a deal. Not a dull moment and not a false word of dialogue - Rebeck seems a rare talent of a contemporary playwright, combining compelling plot with enough character depth to warrant stage performance. No vapid TV sit-com script plonked on stage (from which we suffer too often), this writing deserves the immediacy of theater. This will be one of Atlanta's best productions of the year. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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