Underneath the Lintel

Rated 5.0

A decaying library book with scribbles in the margins (in multiple languages) comes back 113 years overdue. That’d get any librarian’s attention. Who borrowed the book, and why was it returned so late?

Inside the book is an equally ancient claim ticket from a Chinese laundry in London, which leads into a most unusual detective effort to ferret out clues.

This is the framework for Underneath the Lintel, an unorthodox one-man show featuring veteran actor David Silberman of Auburn—one of our favorite performers. Silberman is what’s called a “character actor;” directors tap him constantly for supporting roles.

He’s certainly playing “a character” in this show—a rumpled, elderly Dutch librarian, who uses words you sometimes need to look up in the dictionary. He’s ordinarily polite and a tad formal, but capable of feisty, even crude outbursts. And the overdue book draws him from his obscure duties into a quirky, obsessive, one-man worldwide mystery mission of fabulous (as in, “of or like a fable, incredible”) proportions.

Amazingly, this is Silberman’s first one-man show, but he’s fully in control as he fleshes out this thoroughly oddball character, gradually raising the stakes as bits of physical and theological “evidence” pile up. Playwright Glen Berger’s brainy 2003 script presents strange things happening to a strange person—theoretically a “no-no” in terms of audience appeal. But in this show, it works out beautifully.