Underneath the Lintel
play by Glen Berger
Rose Firebay, Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center
May 3-May 19, 2013
Saturday night in the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center’s Rose Firebay, the Cardinal Stage Company’s house manager Kristen Murcott was looking concerned and getting out some extra folding chairs. It was still ten minutes to show time and the early arriving audience was quickly filling the small space. There was some buzz in the audience about seeing another play by Glen Berger. Cardinal produced his Oh Lovely Glowworm sometime ago.
There was more buzz about the success of Cardinal’s efforts over its five year history. Most of the buzz was about the chance to see the Bloomington favorite Mike Price solo in Underneath the Lintel. Mike has said that in a one man show, the actor is not alone as he partners with the audience and the audience was clearly ready.
For Cardinal’s founding Artistic Director Randy White producing this show is clearly a labor of love. He worked on the piece’s creation and directed the initial production. With Mike Price, he felt that he had just the actor to bring the play to life. Underneath the Lintel is a mini epic loosely inspired by the Christian anti-Semitic legend of the Wandering Jew. It begins with a dryly descriptive beat up long overdue library book.
The book is in the hands of an equally dry if not quite so beat up Dutch librarian played by Price. Price proceeds to track the book through a litany of place names, addresses, tram passes, cleaning tickets and even occasional eye witness reports. It’s an expanded search that takes him around the globe and far back in time.
The richly described chase of Underneath the Lintel and a growing mystery develop. Each of the scraps of evidence about the book and its bearer leads to an interesting and involving anecdote. Sci fi fans of time travel and meta history will be right at home, but others won’t be left out. Price’s librarian becomes more and more animated and emotional in a mix of frustrations, successes and mounting excitement. He’s caught up in the chase and it’s making him a more human and sympathetic figure.
Saturday night’s packed house rewarded the show and Price with a standing ovation, a tricky thing in a tightly packed house. Performances of Glen Berger’s Underneath the Lintel continue through May 19.
At the theatre for you, I’m George Walker