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Phoenix Theatre Gets Stamp of Approval For “Mauritius”

Mauritius is just a tiny Island off the coast of Africa in the southwest Indian Ocean. But travel brochures call it “the jewel of the Indian Ocean” with great scenery, beautiful beaches, wonderful deep-sea fishing and fantastic golf courses.

And, in the world of stamp collecting, Mauritius is famous for 2 of the rarest stamps in the World, the 1847 “Post Office” Penny Orange and Two Pence Blue. Those stamps are at the center of “Mauritius,”Theresa Rebeck’s atmospheric mystery drama named after the island.

It’s currently playing in a production that tautly directed by Dale McFadden at the Phoenix Theatre in Indianapolis.

Allison Moody and Jamison Kay Garrison play Jackie and Mary. They’re a pair of half sisters who share a family stamp collection that may contain an authentic set of the Mauritius stamps. Jackie says the collection came to her as a gift from their mother. Mary says the stamps are hers from her grandfather. The two have twisted issues that span three generations. Some are discussed the darkest are hinted at.

The other three characters in “Mauritius” are Michael Shelton as Phillip the jaundiced stamp expert, Rock Mers as Sterling the big mover and Shane Chuvalas as Dennis, the gofer for both of them. All three simply inhale and exhale conniving avarice. They’re in a continually shifting dynamic, balancing power, knowledge and menace.

Playwright Theresa Rebeck is a veteran of theatre and of most of the New York based TV police and law dramas. Her expertise in quickly thumb nailing characters through minimal dialog is very much on display.

She’s also a writer with an ear for both the street formality of Damon Runyon in Dennis’s dialog and the more formal lecture style in a tour de force on bargaining and economics from Sterling.

Linda Janosko’s set, the grubby stamp store has just the right feel. Karen Witting’s costumes were so right for every one, that it was only later that I thought about them.

“Mauritius” is a cleverly plotted and nicely worked out mystery with interestingly developed characters. The Phoenix Theatre production keeps its dark tone and its quick pace at a level that had me thoroughly involved during the play and still thinking later about some of the issues.

Theresa Rebeck’s “Mauritius” continues at the Phoenix Theatre with Thursday, Friday and Saturday performances through April 4th

George Walker

While completing an M.A.T. degree in English at Indiana University, George Walker began announcing for WFIU in 1967. Along with regularly hosting classical music shows, he interviews artists and reviews plays and operas.

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