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Milwaukee Chamber’s Passionate ‘Mauritius’

Theater Review

Feb. 24, 2011
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The collectors’ market can be very strange and intense, as evidenced by the fact that tiny scraps of paper can be worth a fortune to certain people. A well-written stage drama with brilliant flashes of comedy, Theresa Rebeck’s Mauritius brings the intensity of the collectors’ market to Milwaukee Chamber Theatre’s latest production. Betsy Skowbo and Sara Zientek play estranged sisters in a dispute over family history and a pair of 19th-century postage stamps—worth a few million dollars—from the island nation of Mauritius.

Zientek plays Jackie, a tough young woman who walks into a cluttered stamp store to have an old family stamp album appraised. A theater student who graduates this spring, Zientek has made impressions in smaller roles with UW-Milwaukee and Youngblood, but this is the first time we’ve seen her in a Milwaukee Chamber Theatre production. She takes to the role of the drama’s central heroine with dazzling, aggressive energy.

Zientek and Skowbo join a cast of three seasoned local actors. Milwaukee Chamber Artistic Director C. Michael Wright plays the shop’s owner—something of a broken man who has seen too many days behind the counter. As solid and interesting as Wright is in this production, he’ll be hard-pressed to top his performance in last year’s Duet for One. The other two men in the cast manage some of their best work. Drew Brhel plays a wealthy man with a searing passion for stamps. Brhel deftly sells that passion in a way that could make anyone sympathize with him. Jonathan Wainwright is slick and irresistible as a charismatic man trying to con his way into brokering a deal to sell the stamps.

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre’s production of Mauritius runs through March 13 at the Broadway Theatre Center’s Studio Theatre. To reserve tickets, call 414-291-7800.


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