Mauritius

Theresa Rebeck's play has serious moments, but it's essentially a comic crime caper full of lies, betrayals, cupidity and greed. The central figure is Jackie (Kirsten Kollender), who, after years of family trauma, has inherited from her mother an old stamp collection. Then her smarmy, pretentious half-sister Mary (Monette Magrath) appears on the scene, claiming the stamps are hers because her grandfather collected them. (In the absence of a will, it's hard to say who has the legal claim, but nobody here is concerned with legalities.) Jackie gradually realizes that the rare stamps — issued in Mauritius in 1847 — are worth millions. Mary becomes entangled with a dubious philatelist (John Billingsley), a likeable con man (Chris L. McKenna) and a raffish gangster/gun runner (Ray Abruzzo), who, with a collector's mania, is determined to own the famous "Mauritians." Plot reversals abound, as ownership is debated, negotiated and fought over. The piece is so cleverly constructed that we almost forget how slight it is, and director Jessica Kubzansky provides a slick and polished production, with an impeccable cast. Set designer Tom Bruderwitz makes admirable use of the theater's revolving stage, and Tim Weiske's fight choreography is convincing. Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 4 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; call theater for numerous schedule changes; through April 26. (626) 356-7529.
Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 4 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. Starts: April 3. Continues through April 26, 2009


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