Review: MAURITIUS at Kanata Theatre

Mauritius is a high quality production that is well paced, with fast dialogue and enough twists to keep the audience absorbed until the very end.

By: Feb. 09, 2024
Review: MAURITIUS at Kanata Theatre
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Review: MAURITIUS at Kanata Theatre
Adam Pelletier and Michael Clarke in Mauritius.
Photo by Alex Henkelman Photography.

Kanata Theatre’s production of Mauritius, directed by Juli Heney, opened this week at the Ron Maslin Playhouse and features an original score by local composer, J. Leonard Hopkins. Written by Theresa Rebeck in 2006, Mauritius has an intriguing story, vaguely reminiscent of David Mamet’s American Buffalo. Jackie (Annie West), our protagonist who uses fantasy comics as a form of escapism, has just inherited an old stamp collection from her abusive mother. Knowing nothing about their potential worth, Jackie is directed to visit Philip (Tom Kobolak), a philatelist (a specialist in the study of postage stamps), however the latter cannot be bothered to even so much as glance at the collection. Dennis (Adam Pelletier), a charismatic stamp enthusiast who happens to be hanging around the shop, agrees to look at the collection instead and informs Jackie that it contains a stamp of moderate value. What he doesn’t tell her is that the collection also contains two extremely rare and desirable stamps, the Mauritius one- and two-penny “post office” stamps, with a combined value of several million dollars. Dennis associates with Sterling (Michael Clarke) a shady, but wealthy, stamp collector, who will undoubtedly want to buy the “post office” stamps. Believing Jackie is naïve and desperate, he arranges for her to meet Sterling to negotiate a sale (presumably far beneath the stamps’ fair market value and for a cut of the proceeds). Tensions mount when we meet Mary (Elizabeth Foulds Rodgers), Jackie’s half-sister, who claims the stamp collection is hers alone and adamantly refuses to sell it, threatening any hope of repairing their already tenuous relationship.

Review: MAURITIUS at Kanata Theatre
Annie West and Elizabeth Foulds Rodgers in Mauritius.
Photo by Alex Henkelman Photography.

The acting was commendable, with West and Pelletier effectively leading the cast. West channelled Jackie’s lifetime of hurt and inner turmoil exceptionally well, and they had great comedic timing. Pelletier was simultaneously charming and seedy, as called for by his character. Clarke has impressive stage presence, commanding control of every scene in which he appeared. His portrayal of Sterling’s dual edged personality was remarkable – the insidiousness of his character entirely thrown off by the childlike glee with which he inspects the Mauritian stamps. Likewise, Foulds Rodgers alternated between being sympathetic to villainous and self-righteous. However, Kobolak’s portrayal of Philip left the character appearing timid and weak, rather than brusque and arrogant. This made the power struggle between the three male characters far less evenly matched than it would otherwise have been, to the overall detriment of the story.

The stage (set design by Tony Walker) is divided into two sections: half for the store, and the other half for Jackie’s living room. Whenever the scene changed, the stage faded to black to allow the stagehands to rearrange various props. Meanwhile, the front part of the stage was used as a street of sorts, with pedestrians interacting with each other as they moved from one end of the stage to the other. Doing nothing to advance the plot, its sole purpose seemed to be to distract the audience during scene changes, which only undermines their intelligence.

None of the above gripes take away from the fact that Mauritius is a high quality production from Kanata Theatre. The story is well paced, with fast dialogue and enough twists to keep the audience absorbed until the very satisfying ending. Mauritius is in performances through February 17th. Click here for more information or to buy tickets.




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