BWW Review: Act II Playhouse Presents an Intense MAURITIUS
Passion, greed and danger play out in MAURITIUS, the current play onstage at Act II Playhouse. This intense show is about what one character calls "the crown jewel of philately," two rare stamps from the island of Mauritius that are worth many millions of dollars if sold. The play tells an action packed tale that will have audiences engaged throughout the show. Playwright Theresa Rebeck has created a suspenseful evening of entertainment that is full of twists and turns. This show, under the direction of David Bradley, is incredibly well done, and it is an intense story about what happens when a valuable stamp collection is at the center of a conflict between two family members. The production of MAURITIUS at Act II Playhouse is a fast-paced and intense production that pulls the audience into the action of the conflict between two sisters struggling over what to do with the rare stamps.
MAURITIUS is a play written by Theresa Rebeck who has produced and written for LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT and NYPD BLUE. This play follows two half-sisters who are arguing over a stamp collection that was found in their deceased mother's home. One of the sisters, Mary, claims the collection belongs to her because it was her grandfather's. However, her half-sister, Jackie, finds the collection and realizes that a few of the stamps are extremely valuable and wants to sell them to have a life that is not full of monetary worries. The story is full of manipulation, tension and intimidation, although there are also moments that will have the audience laughing to provide some much needed relief from the intensity of the play.
Director David Bradley keeps the tension building as five energetic actors pull audiences into the clutches of MAURITIUS. Playing the role of Jackie, one of the sister who appears to have endured hardship while taking care of her ailing mother is Campbell O'Hare. O'Hare provides an animated portrayal of the insatiable younger sister that is very engaging. Playing the older sister, Mary, is Julianna Zinkel. Zinkel is strong in this role as she unravels the multi-layers of this character. Jake Blouch plays Dennis, a charismatic and manipulative con-artist. Blouch gives a stand-out performance in this role as he captures the character's craftiness as well as his charm. In the role of Sterling, a die-hard stamp lover with a great deal of money and a questionable background, is Stephen Novelli. Novelli is brilliant from the moment he appears onstage as he brings forth the cunning and menacing nature of his character. Rounding out this cast is Brian McCann who portrays Philip, a stamp expert and stamp shop owner. McCann brings about a relatability to this cynical character, and throughout the show it seems he creates a semblance of a moral center, although possibly self-serving, as he wants these stamps to be possessed by their rightful owner and any transaction to be taken care of in the proper fashion.
In addition to the incredible cast I need to mention the artistic team. The set designed by Colin McIlcane seamlessly glides between a stamp shop to a well-worn living room. Samantha Reading choreographed the intense fight scenes. Christopher Colucci is the Sound Designer and Composer and Lilly Fossner is the Lighting Designer. In addition, Katherine Fritz designed the costumes, which offer clues into the characters' lives and personalities.
MAURITIUS runs at Act II Playhouse through November 20, 2016. For more information and tickets visit their website at www.act2.org or call the box office at 215-654-0200.
Photo Credit: Mark Garvin