note: entire contents copyright 2006 by Beverly Creasey
When Theresa Rebeck (author of the Huntington Theatre’s smash MAURITIUS) first started out in Boston twenty years ago, critics compared her to David Mamet for her brassy language and gritty subject matter. Well, here comes the comparison again because MAURITIUS starts out like AMERICAN BUFFALO, then out-Mamets the “master of lowlife” with an elegant, downright hilarious play about a set of rare stamps which could fetch millions for their owner. Forget those coin collectors. Rebeck is the alchemist, mining gold from a tiny square of paper.
Ownership, it turns out, is the very itchy rub. Do the stamps belong to the daughter whose deceased mother had forgotten all about them, if she even cared in the first place –or to the estranged half sister, who did not speak to her mother all these years but who remembers as a child pouring over the stamps with her grandfather. They languished, never making an appearance until now, when the two women are packing up to sell the mother’s house.
Add a trio of shady characters to the mix and you get a sassy suspense comedy with delicious flights of philosophical fancy. Who knew stamp collecting could give rise to such wild emotions! What a ride! What fun! What performances! Director Rebecca Bayla Taichman combines an edgy ‘film noir’ hint of danger with classic screwball comedy style and the result is joyous. Michael Aronov leads the stampede with a tour de force performance as the charismatic hustler, working all the angles, charming all the ladies. Marin Ireland as the twitchy sister desperate to sell the collection, is the polar opposite of Laura Latreille, as the possessive sister who wants to keep it for herself.
Robert Dorfman is perfection as the wily expert with reasons of his own to want control of the stamps and James Gale is power personified as the greedy, single minded collector. Eugene Lee’s ingenious set converts several times with clever ease. Add MAURITIUS to your Playbill collection. It’s well worth the visit.