Scott Morfee, Tom Wirtshafter, Dana Matthow
UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL
By GLEN BERGER
Starring T. RYDER SMITH
Soho Playhouse, 15 Vandam St. (W. of Sixth Ave.), NYC
Opening Night: October 23, 2001
Directed by RANDY WHITE
Set Design LAUREN HELPERN
Costume Design MIRANDA HOFFMAN
Lighting Design TYLER MICOLEAU
Sound Design PAUL ADAMS
Production Design Consultant ELAINE J. McCARTHY
Production Manager B. D. WHITE
Production Stage Manager RICHARD A. HODGE
Press Representative SHIRLEY HERZ ASSOCIATES Shirley Herz, Nancy Khuu
A librarian-come-detective, faced with a minor mystery, goes in search of the mythic “Wandering Jew”
The title of Glen Berger’s UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL refers to the legend of the man who refused to help Jesus when he fell in his doorway, underneath the lintel, and was condemned to wander, never stopping, never sitting, never revealing his identity, until the Second Coming. Although the inspiration for the play is huge, the work itself is really the tale of Anyone, or Everyone. Here, an unassuming, dedicated librarian, when faced with the return of a book that is more than a century overdue, goes in search of the culprit, and ends up taking a journey that will lead him to several countries and through centuries of history and legends.
T. Ryder Smith, as the Librarian, presents his story in the form of a lecture, “An Impressive Presentation of Lovely Evidences.” So, the “action” here is a recounting of events, the goal being to persuade the audiences, fictional and actual, of the Librarian’s just interest in following the trail. With this formula, the author needs to make the material damned interesting, and the actor relating it had better be equally engaging. Surprisingly, it is not hard to get caught up in the Librarian’s enthusiasm.
Through a series of the slightest clues, our guide carries on. Soon, we expect each unlikely journey to lead to just a little bit more, and for our beleaguered speaker to reach into his case, pull out a tagged item and announce, “Evidence number...!” We recognize, too, that after a trip to London, and a performance of LES MISERABLES, our man is likely to wander into a theater wherever he goes. So yes, there are little contrivances, and no real surprises, and the idea of a man traveling the world because an overdue library book has mysteriously returned is a stretch. But, at the theater, where it is always a pleasure to be invited to suspend disbelief, if only for a couple of hours, we have come to expect that anything is possible, even just UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL.
- Kessa De Santis -