28 April 2007

Underneath The Lintel

To London's glittering West End, for Glen Berger's Underneath The Lintel, starring The West Wing's Richard Schiff.
The play is a whimsical little piece, that from time to time takes itself a little too seriously. The story of a Dutch librarian who becomes intrigued by a late returned book and embarks on a quest to find the borrower, Underneath the Lintel finds the single character ruminating on the nature of life, history and meaning without ever becoming forboding. The plot hangs on a series of Da Vinci Code-like coincidences and theories, and the skill for the single actor in the play is to make these seem natural or to make the librarian's acceptance of them not seem too outrageous.
Richard Schiff held the audience in his hand for 90 minutes, unspooling his tale of laundry tickets, 18th century landed gentry and tramcars with perfect timing and drawing the audience further into the world of the lonely librarian. His standing ovation at the peformance I saw (the final London performance) was the least we could do to signal our appreciation of his skill at his craft.
NTW : The set was a basic community hall or class room, so attempts to "jazz it up" with dimming and brightening wall lamps was distracting.
JTD : 90 minutes, an audience, one man. That's theatre right there.

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