Anthony J. Piccione
After living here for a little more than a year, one of the things I’ve noticed about theatre in New York is that revivals of previously produced plays are less common in the indie theatre scene – where newer works often seem more prominent – than they are on Broadway, or in community theatre outside of NYC. So when I was asked to review the play Mauritius – which is being presented this month by Tongue in Cheek Theater Productions – I was eager to see how this production would be.
The play – which premiered on Broadway at the Manhattan Theatre Club in 2007 – revolves around two sisters and their family’s collection of expensive vintage stamps being held onto by older sister Mary, until younger sister Jackie decides to take them and sell them on the black market for a hefty profit. The overall play starts off slow, I admit, but it ultimately proves to have been a very well-written drama that deserved this solid revival. It gradually becomes more intriguing as the plot thickens, with the second half of the play proving to be particularly engaging.
Aside from the written text itself, the performances from the five actors are the main highlight of this production, and what makes it particularly strong. Leading the cast is Emily Nash, who turns in a particularly strong and emotional performance in the role of Jackie. While I’m normally skeptical when directors decide to perform in their own productions, Jake Lipman – the Artistic Director of Tongue in Cheek Theater Productions, who also did an excellent job at staging this producing – turns in a fine performance in the role of Mary. The rest of the cast is rounded out by Kurt Bardele as Philip the stamp expert, Michael Vincent Carrera as the crooked buyer Sterling, and Derek Long in the role of the deal broker Dennis, all of whom turn it solid performances which especially impressed me toward the climax of the play.
Considering that the venue is fairly small, this production should be applauded for making the most out of the space, and designing a very good set for the show. Over the course of the production, in large part thanks to both the performances and the set design, it almost feels easy to forget that you’re watching a show. While I’ve been able to find nice things to say about most shows I’ve reviewed over the past year or so – whether it was the performances or the staging or the technical aspects – I admit I haven’t always felt that consistently with each show I’ve reviewed, so that’s saying something.
Clearly, as you can tell by the way I’m describing it, this was one of the more impressive productions I’ve seen over the course of 2017. As much as I love reviewing new plays, this was an excellent revival of a compelling drama, and the actors deserve a lot of credit for making it a huge success. There will be a few more performances this coming week, so be sure to check it out if you get the chance. This one is certainly worth it.
“Mauritius" – presented by Tongue in Cheek Theater Productions – runs at the Bridge Theatre at Shetler Studios & Theatres from October 18th to 28th. For more information, please www.tictheater.com.