On June 26, playwright Glen Berger became the third investigative librarian in Underneath the Lintel, the play he wrote that has become a cult favorite in the Off-Broadway market.
The Randy White-directed staging opened Oct. 23, 2001 as a limited engagement at the Soho Playhouse (15 Vandam Street) has been extended now for the third times, now through the summer. Scott Morfee, Dana Matthow and Tom Wirtshafter produce.
David Chandler was the most recent actor in the solo piece. T. Ryder Smith created the role in 2001.
In the play, a librarian attempts to unravel the mystery of an overdue library book — 123 years overdue.
Berger's playwriting credits include The Birdwatcher (Best Play, 1990 New City Playwrights Festival), Great Men of Science, Nos. 21 & 22 (Best Play, 1998 Ovation Award and L.A. Weekly), Bessemer's Spectacles, This End Up and The Wooden Breeks. He wrote the book and lyrics to A Night in the Old Marketplace, and received a Sloan Foundation grant for his newest musical, On Words and Onwards. Canadian-born director White founded the Live Bait Theatre in Sackville, NB. Playwright Berger's acting past includes The Mask & Wig Comedy Troupe at U Penn. He was understudy for the entire run of the New York production of Underneath the Lintel, and had performed the role 20 times.
Performances play 8 PM Tuesdays-Thursdays, 7 & 10 PM Fridays, 3 & 8 PM Saturdays and 3 PM Sundays. Tickets are $40.
Student and senior discounts are available day of show at the box office. For tickets, call (212) 239-6200.
Underneath the Lintel never had an actual closing date. Still, had the Off-Broadway show not received good reviews and positive word of mouth (the show is a kind of decades spanning investigation), it might have closed by now. Producers Scott Morfee, Dana Matthow and Tom Wirtshafter have resolutely stood by the show even while suffering through a winter slump exacerbated by the economic fallout of Sept. 11.
In the play, a librarian notices that a book left in the return slot is 123 years overdue. The book would have racked up (according Playbill On-Line's calculations, made at 10 cents a day for roughly 365 days per year for 123 years) approximately $4,489.50 in late fees, but that's of less interest to the protagonist than the story behind its disappearance. He travels to various international cities to piece together the narrative.
The librarian then "rents stage time to present impressive evidence...that many years ago, underneath a lintel, one man told another man to 'shove off.'" Webster's Dictionary defines a lintel as "a horizontal architectural member spanning and usually carrying the load above an opening" — or, a doorway or threshold.
The play was performed at Yale Summer Cabaret in July 1999 as a workshop production. In May 2001, the Actors' Gang in Los Angeles staged a three-week production starring Brian T. Finney, which won the Ovation Awards for Best Play and Best Actor.
— By Kenneth Jones