A slightly flustered ex-librarian begins a presentation. The story he has to tell is very important to him he has a box of scraps, he says, which serve to prove one life and justify another.
These scraps are pieces of evidence hes gathered on a journey he has undertaken, a journey which has become his life. The journey is why he is an ex-librarian.
A 113-year overdue travel guide that he found in the night depository sent him on a journey to track down whoever dropped off the book. And so began his investigation and life-changing excursion, which has led him to stand before us, trying to convince us that he has actually stumbled upon a real-life figure from religious mythology. He is following a person whose existence he is trying to prove to everyone else, and the task is taking its toll on him.
Rodney Lee Rogers plays the significantly nameless librarian, who loses himself in his obsession, becoming as anonymous as the man hes following.
Rogers librarian is almost a little too neat and tidy, a little too at ease, and a little too charming. Hes an extremely talented actor, and his skill (especially his humor) shows with this but somehow this doesnt seem the role for him. (Perhaps its just too difficult not to draw comparison with Stephen White, who played this role in PUREs regular season.) Rogers leaves his Dutch persona at times; when he comes back to it the portrayal is good, but he doesnt seem to get into it until the end of the play, as tears well in his eyes. Then all the emotion, which hes been talking about, finally travels through his body.
That feeling of a surface portrayal may be what led some of the audience to nappy-time during the middle of the production, which admittedly does drag a bit even in text. But Rogers immense likability brings them back at the end he knows how to scoop the audience back into his fold.
Sharon Gracis direction helps greatly with the audience recovery, also, keeping the librarian in motion as he literally reaches out to the audience for their attention and affirmation.
The beauty of Underneath the Lintel lies in its complexity. It is beautiful in both its sadness and joy, its frustration with and affirmation of life. Its a lovely, heart-wrenching story; right now the production just needs a bit more of that to come through.UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL Piccolo Spoletos Theatre Series $15 May 29, 31, June 1 at 8 p.m., June 2, 11 at 6 p.m., June 3 at 2 p.m., June 4, 10 at 9 p.m. PURE Theatre, The Cigar Factory, 701 E. Bay Street 554-6060