The tale behind the book overdue for 113 years

Image by y PURE TheatreImage by 20080717lintel.jpg The show is told in the form of a lecture.

Dedication, obsession, and God become wrapped up in a librarian's quest to the find the borrower of a book that is 113 years overdue.

Glen Berger's one-act play Underneath the Lintel premiered in 2001, but is performed this month at the Circular Congregational Church by PURE Theatre's Rodney Lee Rogers.

A New York Times review of the original performance was generally pleasing:
Mr. Smith plays a Dutch librarian, a fussbudget with the personality tics of the shy, small-minded and eccentric, a man whose life's focus is making sure no one tries to get away with leaving overdue books in the library's overnight return bin.

Or at least it was his focus until some months before the action of the play begins, when he found a book in the bin -- a weather-beaten Baedeker -- that had been checked out 113 years earlier. Ever since then he's been on a quixotic and around-the-world search for the returner -- and the borrower -- of the book, and the results are of enough import that he has arranged to deliver his findings in a public lecture. Thus the play; with the aid of a blackboard, a screen for slide projections and a chest containing scraps of evidence, the librarian, with increasing agitation, tells his story.

There is something innately compelling in this construct, the unlikely discoverer of a secret thread who is instinctively moved to pull it and pursue the consequent unraveling. What is unraveled here is a mystery that dates to the Crucifixion.

The play ran for 450 performances.

And the Charleston City Paper found Rogers' performance of the work to be satisfactory:
The labyrinthine story is punctuated by Rogers' succinct telling and ability to draw the audience in to project a feeling of interconnectedness and excitement. The story succeeds in capturing our attention due to its intimacy. But it's also rewarding just to watch Rogers bring his character to life.

The show will be performed a number of times: July 10-12 7:30 p.m., July 17-19 7:30 p.m., July 20 2 p.m., July 24-25 7:30 p.m. Each show is $25 ($10 students), and pay-what-you-can on the 23rd. Buy tickets online.