By Dan and Alison Tingley
Underneath the Lintel, by Glen Berger, is now playing at PACA (1505 State Street, Erie, PA). Berger also recently co-wrote the book for a musical adaptation of “Spiderman.” We’re not saying that’s relevant. We’re just saying. Anyway, Underneath the Lintel is relatively new, premiering in 2001. It has enjoyed a moderate level of success and was voted one of the top ten plays of the year by “Time Out NY” magazine. Though, that fact is difficult to confirm without paying for a subscription, and that’s not happening.
This production of Underneath the Lintel is directed by and stars Craig Schneider. It’s the story of a rather boring librarian, who is brought to life by an overdue book. A really quite overdue book. He tells us the story of his quest to solve this mystery through a box of scraps, or evidences, that he uses to prove one life and to justify another. He asks us whether we would recognize a miracle if we saw one. Sounds intriguing, no?
The story is basically as follows. The librarian finds a book that is over 100 years overdue. He calculates the fine but does not know where to mail it, as he has only the initial A. as the name of the borrower. So, he starts doing research. Before long, he is caught up in the inscrutability of this problem and eventually becomes completely obsessed with finding this person. His research takes him all over the world and leads him to believe that the person he is searching for is none other than The Wandering Jew of Jewish folklore. Spoiler alert: it does not end with the Librarian and A. going out for a beer.
We have to give credit to Schneider for having the guts to be the only actor on a stage for 90 minutes. Actually, there’s about 2 minutes where he is joined by Gerry Cermak, who plays Brody, a co-worker. Schneider takes us with him through time and around the globe as he shares this interesting and, at times, amusing story.
We have to admit that there are a couple of times when the show seemed to drag, including costume changes that took a little too long. The delivery is a little flat, but that’s not entirely off the mark for a self-proclaimed boring librarian. Having said that, we can honestly say that we enjoyed the story and were glad that we got a chance to see it. The next time that we return an item late to the library, we will think about the drama that action may cause!
Underneath the Lintel runs on weekends at PACA through February 25. For reservations or more information, visit http://paca1505.ning.com/.