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Underneath the Lintel

Presented by Pat O’Brien’s Vanity Theatrics
Written by Glen Berger

Underneath the Lintel is a one-man play about a reclusive librarian with obsessive compulsive tendencies who starts to chase after clues to search out who anonymously returned a library book that is 123 years overdue. While on his search, he discovers more then he could ever imagine about the world and himself.

Now, let me start off by saying that I fell in love with this piece the moment he explained that his library date stamper contained all of human history, past, present and future. Containing every date, including all historic events and the birth and death of everyone in the room. This opening bit immediately endeared me to the character and made it easier to follow alongside.

Patrick O’Brien plays the librarian with a fast paced energy that keeps the audience fully engaged. As the action plays out we become witness to the unravelling of an intricate tale and a fastidious man. The clues that he uses to track down an increasingly mythic being are in the minute details, which gives you a feeling of being taken on a journey of the Sherlock Holmes variety. The play’s strengths lie not only in O’Brien strong performance but also in how the story evolves. What starts off a simple story about about a librarian trying to track down a delinquent library patron and it slowly wends its way into existential quandaries about god, fate and our place on this earth.

This is not Lintel’s first time at the Minnesota fringe, as last year it played to good-sized houses and rave reviews with an average of 5 kitties overall. The play itself has an impressive history with productions all over north America with countless nominations and positive reviews. It was first produced by The Actors’ Gang theatre company in 2001 in Los Angeles then later that year in New York City at the Soho Playhouse. With 450 performances, it was then voted as one of the Top Ten Plays of the Year by Time Out NY magazine. The original ran at about ninety minutes, so the hour time-limit of the Fringe requires some careful trimming. However, I never felt as if something was missing from the piece – O’brien has done well editing the show down without leaving it lacking. Overall I really enjoyed this show.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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