Mauritius is an actual tiny island nation that once was the only known home to the now extinct dodo bird, but in the world of philately - known colloquially as stamp collecting -it is the source for the two most coveted stamps ever produced, the so-called “Post Office” one and two penny stamps issued in 1847 when Mauritius was a British crown colony. These stamps were the first ever issued outside of Britain in another part of the empire.
A set of never-before-seen one and two cent stamps is at the center of attention in the regional premiere of “Mauritius” written by Theresa Rebeck. Rebeck, who is a veteran of TV shows like “NYPD Blue” “Law and Order: Criminal Intent,” was also responsible for films like “Harriet the Spy” and “Catwoman.” She was also the creator of the now-cancelled TV series “Smash.”
The script is very much like a female version of David Mamet with the tough, gritty language of the street. The intrigue over the stamps has five characters who scheme to win the stamps for their own or make a fortune for themselves.
The tale begins with the first of two half-sisters Jackie, played by Leslie Boles, and Mary played by Andrea Carlin. It’s Jackie who had been given the stamp album by her now-deceased mother, even though Mary, who avoided seeing her mother in her decling days, claims it was her grandfather who owned them and that she is entitled to them.
When Jackie takes the stamps to a local stamp shop for appraisal, she meets two seedy, distrustful fellows: the first is Dennis, played by T. Joe Siebert. He is a slimy opportunist who believes he has stumbled onto the holy grail of stamp collecting.
The shop owner Phil, played by James Wright, is a doubting Thomas and doesn’t even bother to look at Jackie’s find. But it isn’t long until the sleaziest of collectors, Sterling, played with malevolence by Marc Belloni, slithers onto the stage to make it known to one and all that he will have these stamps for his own, price notwithstanding.
Rebeck builds tension from the first into the second acts and the action directed by Harold Gervais is terrific! The play had a very short run on Broadway in 2007, when it closed after almost two months, but during that time it garnered a Tony Award nomination for Bobby Cannavale, a recent Emmy Award winner for "Boardwalk Empire."
All of the local actors do credit to Rebeck's work, showing that not one of them has aspects of what could be called selfless or redeemable character traits.
A word of warning: lots of dirty language in this one, but for gritty members of the street conniving and scheming to capture the bounty of the stamps, it all makes sense. There's a reason that "Mauritius" rhymes with vicious.