BWW REVIEW: The Seedy Underbelly Of The Stamp Collecting World Comes To Light In MAURITIUS

BWW REVIEW: The Seedy Underbelly Of The Stamp Collecting World Comes To Light In MAURITIUS

Thursday 13th July 2017, 7:30pm, New Theatre Newtown

Mystery and manipulation come together as the fight for the 'crown jewels of stamp collecting' plays out in Theresa Rebeck's MARUITIUS. Director Richard Cornally has created a compelling production of this comic thriller for New Theatre and Sure Foot Productions.

BWW REVIEW: The Seedy Underbelly Of The Stamp Collecting World Comes To Light In MAURITIUS
Kitty Hopwood as Jackie (Photo: Sundstrom Images.)

On Rhys William Nicholson's detailed split level set, the fight for two incredibly rare stamps unfolds. The seemingly timid Jackie (Kitty Hopwood) wants to get the stamp collection, found in her late mother's belongings, valued with the intent to sell them to pay off her mother's debts. Whilst the world's worst shopkeeper and stamp expert Philip (Andy Simpson) can't be bothered to give her the time of day if she won't pay the exorbitant fee for an appraisal, she's peeked the interest of the mysterious Dennis' (Peter-William Jamieson) and he discovers she could be sitting on a gold mine. Add to the mix Jackie's horrid half sister Mary (Emma Louise) who believes she has a right to the stamps given that they were her grandfather's collection and the decidedly dodgy collector Sterling (Brett Heath) who has a lethal temper to go with his back-alley mobster appearance and seemingly staid and nerdy pastime of philately becomes a lot more interesting.

BWW REVIEW: The Seedy Underbelly Of The Stamp Collecting World Comes To Light In MAURITIUS
Andy Simpson as Philip, Peter-William Jamieson as Dennis and Kitty Hopwood as Jackie (Photo: Sundstrom Images.)

Hopwood is endearing as the innocent little lamb, as Dennis believes Jackie to be, and the transformation to the cunning dealer once Mary has pushed her out of her shell and well over the edge is brilliant. She delivers a fabulously gutsy performance as the young woman who has finally had enough of being pushed around and getting screwed over by life. Cornally employs a lot of silence and stillness throughout and Hopwood delivers this with a control that ensures the audience can almost hear her thoughts ticking over in her head.

BWW REVIEW: The Seedy Underbelly Of The Stamp Collecting World Comes To Light In MAURITIUS
Brett Heath as Sterling (Photo: Sundstrom Images.)

As Dennis, Jamieson is sufficiently oily as the con artist who thinks he can get the prized stamps for a steal but eventually softens to wanting to protect Jackie. His expression as the dodgy dealer trying to win an easy commission is convincing but nicely balanced by the protective instinct that evolves when he realises that the struggling, perpetually 'unlucky' Jackie. As Dennis 'evolves', Jamieson ensure that Dennis is eventually seen as one of the 'good guys' of the ensemble of questionable conscience.

BWW REVIEW: The Seedy Underbelly Of The Stamp Collecting World Comes To Light In MAURITIUS
Peter-William Jamieson as Dennis (Photo: Sundstrom Images.)

As the mobster philatelist Sterling, Heath presents a sinister image in both his physicality and his fiery delivery that conveys Sterling's hair trigger temper and competitive streak. He ensures that the suspicious collector is seen as menacing whilst having an unusual obsession with stamps, leading to a squeamish gasp from the audience when he finally sets eyes on the coveted Mauritius "Post Office" stamps, issues in September 1847.

BWW REVIEW: The Seedy Underbelly Of The Stamp Collecting World Comes To Light In MAURITIUS
Emma Louise as Mary (Photo: Sundstrom Images.)

As the real villains of the piece, the Louise and Simpson lull the audience into a false sense of security by portraying Mary and Philip as somewhat innocuous initially then gradually showing their true colours. Simpson's captures the stereotypical world-weary shopkeeper fed up with society and really not suited to retail but still continuing on his pathetic existence because he has no other options. Louise's Mary is syrupy sweet but also vindictive and vile from the start as the self-entitled sister that sits like a lump, looking for what she can salvage for herself while Jackie is trying to clear their mother's house whilst grieving her loss. Whilst the other three characters are motivated by money and a better life, Philip and Mary are motivated by revenge which proves to be a much uglier vice than greed and they present this with a convincing conviction that makes the audience hate them even more.

BWW REVIEW: The Seedy Underbelly Of The Stamp Collecting World Comes To Light In MAURITIUS
Emma Louise as Mary, Brett Heath as Sterling, Andy Simpson as Philip, Peter-William Jamieson as Dennis and Kitty Hopwood as Jackie (Photo: Sundstrom Images.)

Whilst some parts, particularly in the first Act do stretch, the tension in the second act make this mystery an engaging piece of comic work. With a strong ensemble and solid American accents, MAURITIUS is an intriguing glimpse into a unusual underworld that many would not expect to exist.

MAURITIUS

New Theatre Newtown

12th - 29th July 2017

www.newtheatre.org.au


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