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Graceland University’s Mauritius Brings Intrigue and Deception to the Shaw
Mauritius promotional poster; image credit Graceland University

Graceland University’s Mauritius Brings Intrigue and Deception to the Shaw

Graceland University’s drama department presents Mauritius, a thriller full of deception, violence, and stamps.  Oh my!

Although the show happens to be titled Mauritius, don’t be fooled, the drama has little to do with the small country off of the coast of Madagascar.  Instead, it has more to do with two of the rarest and most valuable stamps ever, which happened to be produced on that island.  The main protagonist of the show, Jackie (played by Claire McClain), attempts to sell her stamp collection in order to gain some extra cash.  When a former stamp collector, Dennis (played by Troy Lauduski) takes a look at the stamp collection, he happens to discover the previously mentioned stamps.  He then creates a scheme in order to make the biggest score of his life.

“It’s a lot more interesting than it sounds,” says McClain.  “It’s hard to explain to people, ‘Oh, it’s about stamps, but it’s not…’ What’s interesting is how the stamps mean something different to each of the characters.”

Lauduski, scheming as Dennis; photo credit Graceland University

Lauduski, scheming as the character Dennis; photo credit Graceland University

Gary Heisserer, director of the show, agrees, saying that there is a lot more happening than what appears on the surface.  “The level of lies, deception, damage, and intrigue [in the show] really captivates me.”

This very statement is the one of the main features of the play that the actors enjoy most.

“Dennis is a manipulator,” says Lauduski, “It’s fun to play a guy that’s smart enough to know everything but is still attempting to explore what other people are trying to gain.”

Mind you, all of this persuading is mostly done through the choice of words of the characters, an attribute that Heisserer wanted to really communicate.  “It’s a play where [the characters] use language to really injure people, to hurt them.  They use language as a weapon…  We kind of talked about it being almost as a boxing arena.”

A boxing arena happens to be an excellent metaphor, since Mauritius marks the first show to be performed with arena seating in the JR Theatre.  This means that the audience will be seated on all four sides of the stage and will be just feet away from the actors.

However, these aren’t the most interesting qualities of the show.  That honor belongs to the characters and the mystique that they bring.  “It’s a great actors piece, because these are very complex characters and the play reveals information about those characters in very small pieces,” says Heisserer.  As anyone would do, the characters themselves make a full-on attempt to get information out of each other.

With this said, though, some characters are harder to break through, like McClain’s.  “I think Jackie has grown up knowing that she has to be guarded and so she’s got a ton of methods in her arsenal about withholding information and getting information from people…  My guess is that she would have a very good poker face.”

To people on the fence about going to the show, Lauduski says it’s worth it.  “Once you see the first scene, you want know how it’s going to end up… It will keep people interested throughout.”

But you don’t have to take just his words on it, even McClain isn’t afraid to say, smiling, “It will the be the best show that you will ever see in your entire life.”

Mauritius will be performed at the JR Theatre November 21-24th at 7:30.  Tickets are available at the box office starting at $5 for students.  The show has an excessive amount of profanity and is recommended for mature audiences.

About Kirk Peterson

Kirk Peterson is a film, theatre, performance studies and English major from Urbandale, Iowa. His main focus is film, but he has occasional love affairs with other forms of visual storytelling like graphic novels, video games, and theatre. Some of Kirk's favorite filmmakers are some of the more obvious picks like Nolan, Hitchcock, Kubrick, Gilliam, and Spielberg as well as some lesser popular artists like Kevin Smith and Richard Linklater. With all this, he has a hard time finding a film that he doesn't enjoy in at least one way or another. Kirk also enjoys being with his friends on Closson and especially loves to engage in off the wall conversations. Oh, and Batman.

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