Gamm Theatre's second show of their 26th season is "Mauritius" by Theresa Rebeck. When half-sisters Jackie and Mary inherit a possibly rare and valuable stamp collection, they become embroiled in an elaborate con game run by three foul-talking, shady stamp collectors. Jackie is an angry young woman, who wants to sell an heirloom album of stamps for a whopping fee despite protests from her half-sister, Mary who claims the collection is her inheritance from her late grandfather. Jackie brings the stamps to Philip, a seedy stamp dealer, for an appraisal; Philip snubs her but his assistant Dennis zeros in on two particular stamps printed on the island of Mauritius in the early 1800's, reportedly the crown jewels of stamp collecting. Dennis informs Sterling, rich and shady, and Sterling will do anything, pay anything, to get his hands on those two small squares of paper. Jackie resents Mary's long absence during their mother's death; Mary, in turn, harbors an unhealthy attachment to her grandfather's memory; Dennis is aroused by Jackie's hard-edged gullibility as well as her business offer; Philip harbors a grudge against Sterling who once did him dirt and is now ripe for revenge in any shape. Chock full of twists and turns, the show takes you for a ride until its final shocking scene. Director Rachel Walshe casts these 5 roles splendidly and keeps the audience on the edge of their seats, wondering what will happen next. The show is rewarded with a spontaneous standing ovation at curtain call.
Rachel blocks her performers wonderfully in each scene and brings out the best in them, making them delve into their characters. She gives each of them their moment to shine in this show.The gorgeous unit set of Lizzie Borden like living room on stage right, the dingy and realistic stamp shop center stage and coffee shop down left is by Kathryne Hecht. This one of the best sets I have seen there. The wonderful costumes are by Marilyn Salvatore and the excellent fight choreography is by Norman Beauregard. Stage manager Stef Work and her assistant Emma Haney keep things running smoothly all night long. Amanda Ruggiero plays Jackie the hot headed sister who wants to sell the stamps to make money. There seems to be some terrible secret as she was growing up that makes her into this bitter young woman. Amanda's melt down scene where she dumps boxes of things over the living room and belts her sister in the mouth at the end of Act 1 is topnotch. She handles this type of character very well having first reviewed her as a student at URI in "Fat Pig" where she played the role of a bitchy, catty girl. Casey Seymour Kim is fabulous as Mary who is calm as can be until a stunning scene near the end of the show which reveals everything to the audience. Casey usually plays comic roles but this one shows her dramatic side, too. Mary left home at sixteen never to return until the death of their mother. Steve Kidd is outstanding as the womanizing character, Dennis who manipulates the two women to his advantage. He delivers a tour-de-force performance in this role. Jim O'Brien is topnotch as the crusty owner who demands a hefty sum of money to even look at the stamp collection. He has a dynamic emotional breakdown scene in Act 1 where he laments the break up of his marriage. Super rich stamp collector, Sterling is played by Richard Donnelly. He scares the crap out of the girls and the audience,too. He does a tremendous job in this volatile role, running rough shod over the other characters. I reviewed Steve and Richard in "Don Carlos" two years ago where they delivered topnotch performances, too. To say to much about what happens will spoil the show for the audience. It will keep you guessing what happens to the very end of the show. So for a spectacular look at a contemporary show be sure to catch "Mauritius" at Gamm Theatre before time runs out.