'Mauritius'

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Theresa Rebeck's new play is a sinister, crackling lark, of the slapstick screwball comedy type, about two lame-brain half-sisters who share a past that each deals with differently: One's repressed, the other's a crackpot.

"Mauritius," which takes place in a film noir big-city underbelly, follows the sisters' fortunes as they clash on a neurotically tilted battleground of lost childhood and abandonment. Oh yes, they also are battling three bad guys for $10 million in postage stamps.

Although Rebeck's clever, sharp style lacks discipline, it turns out to be a big plus. Encouraged by director Jessica Kubzansky's good-natured insistence on pace, the cast quickly finds a comfortable dramatic pulse that they and the audience like, and stick to it as they make their way through an impressive repertoire of rotating sets and several realistic fight scenes. Kubzansky also makes sure the stage is used as fully as possible, sometimes even arranging the actors in lineups like they have in the opera.

Kirsten Kollender, who takes on the virtuoso demands of hysterically punk, greedy sister Jackie, gives a performance that explodes on the stage one moment, stretches seductively the next and ends up shaking its tightly jeaned little butt at the audience.

Coming out with all guns blasting, Monette Magrath creates a perfect retro parody of a domestic and desirable Earth momma circa mid-1950s. Where Jackie shoots laser bullets from her eyes and mouth, Magrath's Mary just glows blond. Each actor also flashes her own brand of sex appeal. (partialdiff)
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