with Dolores Hydock in the one-woman play by Glen Berger
Actress Hydock makes strange play riveting
4 out of 5 stars, review byAlec Harvey, Arts Editor,The Birmingham News
"Underneath the Lintel" is a play steeped in mystery.
From the first moments, when Dolores Hydock walks on stage as a staid Dutch librarian investigating a library book that's 113 years overdue, it's interesting. To steal a line from the play, it's not riveting, but it is interesting.
But nearly 90 minutes later, after Hydock's librarian has taken thread after thread of evidence and very nearly proven a story that many think is more myth than fact, "Underneath the Lintel" is riveting.
And that's due in no small part -- maybe due in totality -- to Hydock's performance.
Any fan knows that Hydock can act, and often does her best work in one-woman shows. From "Shirley Valentine" to "The Search for Intelligent Signs of Life in the Universe" to "The Lady With All the Answers," she has created performances filled with humor and drama, capturing an audience from the get-go and never letting go.
Hydock has a tougher nut to crack with Glen Berger's strange little play about a librarian trying to both prove the existence of one life while ultimately justifying her own.
"Underneath the Lintel" starts off slowly -- Hydock's librarian is rigid and retiring, speaking in a hushed library voice that comes close to lulling a bit too much.
But as her story progresses, and pieces of Berger's intricate puzzle begin to come together, the show comes to life.
Director Carl Stewart has worked with Hydock before and knows what to do here. There are props -- in particular, a chalkboard and an overhead projector that she uses to convey information to her audience -- but nothing that would detract from Hydock herself.
So what we are left with are Berger's convoluted but interesting tale, and yet another memorable character created by Hydock. And that's quite enough.
Does the libarian ultimately prove her case? That, in the end, is still a mystery, one that might be answered 10 different ways by 10 different people.
But one thing's not in doubt. Dolores Hydock is a Birmingham treasure, a storyteller who almost always seems to be at the top of her game.