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Davidson College Assistant Professor of Theatre Mark Sutch

Tour de Force: A One-Man Show by Davidson Professor Mark Sutch

Posted: Wednesday, May. 23, 2012

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John Syme

John Syme graduated from Davidson College with a bachelor of arts degree in French in 1985. He worked as a general-assignment reporter at The Winston-Salem Journal, where he later wrote freelance travel stories during his first solo cross-country road trip in the summer of 1989. He worked as a copywriter at a Charlotte advertising agency, as a research translator at a French nutrition center outside Paris, and as a politics and education newspaper reporter in Charlotte. He returned in 2001 to Davidson, where he is senior writer, alumni editor and instigator of the "Road Trip 2009" blog, which evolved into his current blog, "Daybook Davidson."

I don’t know much about theatre, but I know what I like.

Among other things, I especially like a play with both a plot and a story (they’re not always the same thing); laughs both obvious and smart; poignance without smarmy sentimentality; intelligent and intelligible scripting (again, not always the same thing) ; and lively and precise interpretation. Mark Sutch’s production of Glen Berger’s one-man show Underneath the Lintel: An Impressive Presentation of Lovely Evidences, is just such a play. It’s at the Warehouse Performing Arts Center in Cornelius starting Thursday. Go!

Full disclosure, Mark is a campus buddy whose path Dodger and I often cross in passing through the Cunningham Theatre Center parking lot on our way squirreling. Mark’s also a fine actor and director and does full justice to the clever conceits and labyrinthine nuances of Underneath the Lintel.

He plays a librarian. A book comes in more than a century overdue. As “evidences” reveal themselves, he traces the tardy borrower’s identity over space and time in an allegorical tour de force of spirit, both human and divine, that will make you wonder as he wanders there and back again, maybe. Yes, it spirals out toward the metaphysical at certain necessary points. But it ain’t heavy. I laughed out loud at well-timed intervals where Berger’s accessibly erudite script and Sutch’s creatively honed precision meet with the vital force of human recognition. I saw myself. And I left the one-hour-twenty-minute show a little more open to the possibilities of life, a little gladder to be here now.

I chatted briefly with Mark after last Saturday’s performance at CAST’s digs on Davidson Street in Charlotte’s NODA arts district, just down the hall from Amelie’s French Bakery, a great location for a theater since you can get a salted caramel brownie before and after the show. Mark was beaming a light from within, not at all from ego, it seemed to me, but truly as a joyful vessel for his part of the experience. Or maybe that was just how I felt.

The production moves to Cornelius for the weekend starting this Thursday. And with or without the salted caramel brownies, it’s a winner.

Lawrence Toppman’s review in the Charlotte Observer

The Warehouse Performing Arts Center

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