October 16, 2009

It's a thriller. About postage stamps.

mauritius_promophoto02.jpg I was a junior philatelist for ten years; I breathed stamps. And even I was skeptical about "Mauritius'" premise. Nostalgia maybe. Charm definitely. But adrenaline? Fear? Over little pieces of paper? Probably not. I was mistaken. Centre Stage's production of Theresa Rebeck's "Mauritius" (rhymes with malicious) is a perfect suspense for this spooky season.

Jackie (Debra Capps) slogs through the aftermath of her mother's death: the house, the stuff, demons (and bruises) of a past life, mountains of bills she can't even read. There's one glint of hope: some old stamps bequeathed to her on mom's deathbed. A pair of Mauritius stamps, each worth enough money to solve everything. Unfortunately, the stamps also come with an estranged half-sister, a has-been philatelist, and two violent con men (Brock Koonce and Neil Shurley). Cue action.

From David Hartmann's tight set to J. Michael Craig's musty old Phil, the show genuinely surprises. But if the stamps are the “crown jewels of philately,” the crown jewels of this production are the sisters, Jackie and Mary. Debra Capp's Jackie is funny, painful, and poignant. She's been through the apocalypse of a family, and while she's deeply damaged, she's still fighting. I wouldn't mind seeing a sequel—what happens to Jackie after—provided Ms. Capp is in the role.

And Mary. Mary, Mary, Mary. She's also a survivor, though of a different strain. Anne Kelly Tromsness's Mary is so real, it's almost hard to hate her. Almost. But hate her or no, Tromsness gives her so much depth that you can't help hoping she'll come to her senses.

You'll pull for Jackie's right to those stamps all the way through the harrowing show, but Theresa Rebeck's script delivers something you didn't even think to want: the realization that no amount of money can fix the past. Or even the present. But with a little luck and some very quick thinking, you just might be able to imagine a better future.

Theresa Rebeck's "Mauritius" Directed by Chip Egan. With Debra Capps, J. Michael Craig, Brock Koonce, Neil Shurley, Anne Kelly Tromsness.

Presented by Centre Stage, 501 River Street, Greenville, SC (864) 233-6733. Through Oct 31. Tickets $25, with discounts for seniors and students.

Posted by stephanie at October 16, 2009 11:10 AM | TrackBack