Friday, April 23, 2010

Treachery and Philately

Susan and I attended a play at the university tonight. It was a production of Mauritius by Theresa Rebeck. Mauritius is an island nation east of Madagascar, which itself is off the eastern coast of Africa--but the play does not take place in Mauritius, nor does it have much to do at all with the country. The play is about two sisters who inherit a stamp collection after the death of their mother, and in that stamp collection are two extremely rare stamps to philatelists (stamp collectors): the one-penny and two-pence "post office" stamps from Mauritius in 1847.

Enjoying the play doesn't depend upon one's being a philatelist oneself or even knowing anything about philately. One need only understand that these stamps are so rare that they're worth millions of dollars apiece, and immediately the context of the play is set. We watched characters engage in treachery to get the stamps for themselves, to get paid as much as possible for them or to pay as little as possible for them, destroying relationships and inflicting physical harm when thought necessary to possess those stamps.

We really enjoyed the play. The characters' acts of deception kept us guessing at what would happen next, and the ending offered a few surprises that I hadn't seen coming. The actors did a fine job, too, portraying characters that seemed distinctly different from characters I've seen them play in previous plays . . . so I was impressed with the range that I saw from them. The technical elements were spot-on, including a set that rotated to reveal two different settings as well as appropriate costumes and transitional music.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoy the backstage theater space. The actors did a nice job, and the play itself was interesting.