Theatre Review: Mauritius is hilarious, heartbreaking and thoroughly engaging (Sydney’s New Theatre until 29th July)

After the death of their Mother, two estranged half-sisters enter into a heated debate over which one of them owns a coveted stamp collection. Jackie (Kitty Hopwood) is the younger of the two and she sees the sale of the stamp collection as her ticket to a better life. Standing in her way is Mary (Emma Louise) who maintains the stamps are hers as they originally belonged to her Grandfather and she intends to keep them for sentimental reasons. The relationship between the sisters is incredibly authentic and believable as they bicker and fight.

Enter into this fray three avid collectors, Sterling (Brett Heath), Dennis (Peter – William Jamieson) and Philip (Andy Simpson). Each of the men recognise the value of two particular stamps from Mauritius and do whatever it takes to possess them. Lies, manipulation and brute force follow, with Jackie taking charge of the situation in a way that is both surprising and exceptional.

Hopwood was fantastic as Jackie, with her pain at the recent loss of her Mother palpable and there was such an element of loneliness about her – the character appeared so lost – with the stamps her one shining beacon of hope.

With such a small cast it’s impossible to single out any one performer as outstanding. This truly was a case of each actor being able to hold their own and shine on stage. Interactions between the cast were authentic and real, the audience becoming heavily invested in their stories, as much for what they revealed about themselves as for what they concealed. Implications of abuse at the hands of her father appears to plague Jackie but the truth is never truly exposed. Instead we are left to wonder and watch as the sisters struggle to reconnect.

For me the only hiccup was the use of American accents – while better than most I’ve encountered – it seemed unnecessary to the plot.  I also wondered what decade the play was meant to be set in. While the set design and costuming implied it was the 1990s, the constant reference to the internet points to a much later period.

I really didn’t know what to expect heading in, but it exceeded any expectations and engaged me more that I was anticipating. The ending will surprise and delight you, with each of the characters getting exactly what they deserve. At times hilarious and heartbreaking, Mauritius is a thoroughly engaging and entertaining way to pass the evening.

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For more information and to purchase tickets, head to the New Theatre website. It will be performed at the New Theatre until 29th July 2017. The writer attended the performance on 13th July.

Photo by Sundstrom Images.