Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New Theatre: Mauritius (2 reviews) Theatre opened its regional premiere of Theresa Rebeck's Mauritius on April 16th, 2009.
Jackie and Mary are half-sisters whose mother's death leaves them in possession of a rare stamp collection, while battling over who owns the stamps three dealers have designs of their own. Who is friend and who is foe?
Ricky J. Martinez directs a cast that includes Michaela Cronan, Michael McKeever, Israel Garcia, Bill Schwartz, and Kim Ehly.

Christine Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
If you've ever wondered what a woman playwright's version of a David Mamet script might look like, New Theatre has your answer. The small Coral Gables company has just opened a cracklingly good production of Theresa Rebeck's Mauritius, a violence-tinged dark comedy that was on Broadway only last season.
Director Ricky J. Martinez has assembled a powerhouse cast and exploited both the energy and tension in Rebeck's script.
Cronan effectively plays Jackie as both foundering and savvy, a young woman determined to secure her future even as she's grieving. McKeever makes Philip both soft-spoken and slyly resolute. Schwartz and Garcia are both spectacularly good, Schwartz as a jittery foul-mouthed menace who would doubtless kill his own mother to get his hands on the stamps, Garcia as a charmer who's instantly ready with a new line of bull when the last one flops.
Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the Miami New Times:
Mauritius is inscrutable: At once laughable and trenchant, the play is both absurd and sufficiently emotionally authentic to make you feel like a voyeur.

Also, it's flawed as hell. But it's still worth seeing.

Mauritius's success... probably has something to do with Ricky J. Martinez's direction and the capable cast. But these things, too, are fuzzy...

...typical of the small problems dogging Mauritius — interpretive choices that seem under-analyzed or rough around the edges. There's also Michaela Cronan's awkward unhappiness in the opening scene, in which she seems more full of teen angst and petulance than I-just-lost-my-mother-and-my-life-sucks depression. Then there's Kim Ehly's inability to determine whether she's playing an unaware solipsist or an honest villain. Only Israel Garcia and Michael McKeever remain steady throughout. Both give impassioned, inventive performances that add depth to characters that probably look a little stock on paper.

Mauritius's odd magic is an energy thing... We begin Mauritius not caring about pouty little Jackie or her overvalued bits of paper; by the end, we believe these things are very important. Is there value in a bit of paper, beyond what it can be exchanged for? The play stops just short of asking the question aloud. But we are prepped to demand an answer anyway — both by the exquisite way the dialogue heats and speeds up throughout the show, as though the actors were playing some dangerous game of dramatic chicken, and by our own preoccupation with overvalued bits of paper.

Mauritius runs through May 17th at New Theatre.

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