Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

Underneath the Lintel

Also see Susan's reviews of The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Henry V, Part 1 and Part 2

Paul Morella
Actor Paul Morella has done one-person plays before (as Clarence Darrow and a solo version of A Christmas Carol), but his current performance in Underneath the Lintel at MetroStage in Alexandria, Virginia, is remarkable in its many moods, its thoughtfulness, and the way he uses variations of both physical posture and vocal timbre to tell a unique story.

In Glen Berger's play, Morella is a Dutch librarian faced with a mystery that has taken him around the world. As he displays and explains what he calls "lovely evidences" to an audience in a rented hall, he brings the audience inside his quest.

The librarian's story begins one morning when he finds a book 113 years overdue in the overnight book return bin. What could this mean, he wonders. Determined to track down the person who borrowed the book, he soon finds other clues—a receipt for an unclaimed piece of laundry, a tram ticket—that take him from London to New York, from Germany to Australia. Soon he's considering the immensity of the universe and the human need for meaning, as well as legends about people blessed (or cursed) with eternal life.

Director John Vreeke modulates Morella's performance as the librarian's discoveries begin striking close to home. What is free will? How is it possible for a person's life and experiences to disappear from memory? How can disenfranchised people find ways to persevere—or even thrive? And what can one seemingly insignificant person do to affect the people around him or her?

MetroStage is presenting Underneath the Lintel in rep with The Thousandth Night, which features Marcus Kyd as an actor giving the performance of his life. The librarian, with his disheveled hair and stodgy glasses, seems far different from a professional performer, but both of their stories touch on injustice and the need to stand up for oneself and others. (Without saying too much, both plays also invoke the Holocaust.)

Underneath the Lintel
April 17th - May 25th, in rep with The Thousandth Night
By Glen Berger
The Librarian: Paul Morella
Directed by John Vreeke
1201 N. Royal St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
Ticket Information: 703-548-9044 or

Photo: Chris Banks