note: entire contents copyright 2006 by Carl A. Rossi
Librarian Ö Jason Lambert
Iíve scribbled about a directorís vision being incompatible with a play, but what if the play is intriguing and the actor is riveting but their union is an ill-matched one? A current example is Mill 6 Collaborativeís production of UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL where both play and actor demanded my attention but from two separate corners. Glen Berger has written a 90-minute monologue for a Dutch librarian stunned when a book taken out by ďA.Ē in 1873 is returned in present-day 1986; the Librarian, with only scraps for clues, travels around the world in search of ďA.Ē who he comes to believe is the legendary Wandering Jew, cursed to eternally wander after reviling Christ on His way to Golgotha. Though he can only show ďan impressive presentation of lovely evidencesĒ for his pains, the Librarian continues his search as a fellow Wanderer, himself. Mr. Bergerís play has won numerous awards and received numerous productions and, yes, itís intriguing.
And Jason Lambert is riveting. Sharp-featured but attractive, dressed in seedy-academic style, Mr. Lambert explodes with enough non-stop energy to light up the East Coast in a blackout --- the problem is, all that energy is wrong for Mr. Bergerís chamber piece as the Librarian is an introvert stepping out in public and Mr. Lambert is a performer-extrovert too young for the role (surprisingly, director-actor Barlow Adamson, known for his burly-sensitive portrayals, has encouraged/allowed Mr. Lambert to ďsellĒ his performance rather than explore LINTELís nuances). The Librarian is akin to Mr. Beckettís Krapp --- Krapp has his tape recorder; the Librarian, his slide projector --- both men are isolated souls and place great importance on the little things in life. If the Librarian is played as an aging bookworm whose quest is a sudden reason To Be, then said quest becomes a moving one that walks a fine line between madness and immortality; when he is dismissed from his post and carves ďI WAS HEREĒ on his desk, that action should be the highlight of the Librarianís life --- in Mr. Lambertís hands, it is one of many climaxes. After awhile, Mr. Lambertís barnstorming grows wearisome within the Devanaughnís four walls but his is still a talent to applaud and I look forward to better-suited matches between actor, script and performing space.