Who knew stamp collecting could be so dangerous? When a young woman discovers a precious stamp collection, a suspenseful con game ensues in Theresa Rebeck’s “Mauritius.” Carpenter Square Theatre presents the tense comedy-drama Jan. 15 through Feb. 6 at Stage Center, 400 W. Sheridan in downtown Oklahoma City.

Two tiny slips of paper fuel the conflict in “Mauritius.” These are two rare stamps, the one-penny and the two-penny, printed in 1847 on the island of Mauritius, one of the first places in the world to print stamps. A mistake helps make them so precious. “Post Office” is engraved alongside the profile of Queen Victoria, instead of “Post Paid.” Only 500 copies of each stamp were printed before the error was discovered, and in today’s market the stamps are each worth millions.

After their mother dies, estranged half-sisters Jackie and Mary need to settle the estate. Each claims ownership of the family stamp collection that includes the two Mauritius stamps. Jackie took care of their mother during her long illness, and she claims that their mother wanted Jackie to have the stamps. Jackie is desperate for cash, and wants to sell off any that might be valuable.  Well-off Mary claims that she was promised the stamps by her late grandfather who actually purchased them.

Once Jackie takes the collection to get it appraised, the Mauritius stamps are as coveted as the Maltese Falcon by all of the play’s characters.

At first, Phil, the owner of a collectibles shop, refuses to even look at the stamps, but Dennis, a charming grifter who hangs out at the shop, takes an interest and recognizes their value. He starts scheming to get the stamps and maybe the girl, too. He contacts Sterling, a wealthy stamp collector with a hair-trigger temper.

As the negotiations continue, everyone is willing to bully, connive and cheat in order to have their way. Double-crosses pile on double-crosses until the play’s surprising end.

Rodney Brazil directs the theatrical cat and mouse game. Holly McNatt stars as the desperate Jackie, and Courtney Hahne plays her inflexible sister Mary. Chad Alan Baker is the smarmy hustler Dennis, while Todd Clark portrays the explosive collector Sterling, and Shane Green is a shopkeeper with a grudge. The production’s stage manager is Kory Kight. Jeffrey Meek serves as costume designer, along with Amy Ackerman as the lighting designer.

Opening night theatergoers on Friday are invited to a post-show party at Stage Center with complimentary food and a cash bar. On Saturday, theatergoers are invited to attend “Theatre Exchange” immediately following the show. “Theatre Exchange” is an opportunity to learn more about the play and the process of bringing it to the stage, and includes a question and answer session with the cast and director. Special “Two-for-one Thursdays” are on Jan. 28 and Feb. 4.

Specific performance dates and times are:

• Jan. 15, 16, 22, 23 at 8 p.m.

• Jan. 28 at 7:30 p.m.

• Jan. 29-30 at 8 p.m.

• Jan. 31 at 2 p.m.

• Feb. 4 at 7:30 p.m.

• Feb. 5-6 at 8 p.m.

Carpenter Square Theatre gratefully acknowledges the support of the Oklahoma Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Allied Arts Foundation. The opening night party is sponsored by The Boom Restaurant and Catering. Cast Sponsors are Steve and Maggie Dixon.

For more information, please visit carpentersquare.com. To make reservations, call 232-6500.

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