INTENSE FUN IN “MAURITIUS”
Theatergoers who love language receive a special treat in TV screenwriter Theresa Rebeck’s “Mauritius,” a joyful riff on David Mamet’s “American Buffalo” and more. Alongside the higgledy-piggledy Mamet-speak of tough guys trying to out-attitude each other there glides the rhythmic counterpoint of elaborate phrase-craft carefully constructed to conceal more agendas than it is forced to reveal.
Live Theatre Workshop has opened a sleek production of “Mauritius” directed by Sabian Trout to let Rebeck’s words soar freely in exploding displays that continue to shimmer like fireworks in your mind long after the moment has past.
The ostensible subject here is stamp collecting, but the real subject is greed as we watch this hunger for wealth terminally consume Jackie (Carley Elizabeth Preston), an innocent in the illusory land of price tag philately; her half-sister Mary (Rhonda Hallquist), determined to lay equal claim on a pair of exceedingly rare stamps from the island country of Mauritius; ambitious Dennis (Steve Wood), a street-wise con artist eager to parlay Jackie’s innocence into his own opportunity; crafty Philip (Michael Woodson), a less-than-prosperous stamp dealer who always had to watch life from the outside; blunt and brutal Sterling (Jonathan Northover), an unabashed gangster and master of manipulation.
Let it be said loudly that all five actors are at the top of their game in giving this play a real run for its money. Each creates a hard-edged character that turns “Mauritius” into a bristling ensemble piece of double-cross scheming and frustrated desires. Nobody gets all of what they want. Everybody gets all of what they deserve.
The plot begins with Jackie discovering that her deceased grandfather’s stamp collection contains two exceedingly rare entries worth an exceptional amount of money. Mary immediately points out she is the most entitled to the collection because she is the one who spent the most time with Grandfather.
But Jackie, being more punk than polite, grabs the stamp album and immediately gets involved with Philip, the shady stamp expert who was recommended by a guy at Jackie’s favorite comic book shop.
Then the fun comes in watching how Dennis, the protégé in the stamp store, tries to outsquirm both Philip and Jackie to get control of those stamps. All their maneuvering becomes more manic when Sterling, the real money man, enters the fray.
None of them has any idea what the two rare stamps from Mauritius are actually worth.
Certainly, each would be ecstatic with $2 million. But what if the stamps are really worth $8 million?
Suddenly, $2 million doesn’t sound so good.
“Mauritius” continues through Aug. 18 with performances at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays, at Live Theatre Workshop, 5317 E. Speedway Blvd. All tickets are $18, with discounts available. For details and reservations, 327-4242, or visit www.livetheatreworkshop.org