Saturday, July 1, 2023



Underneath the Lintel by Glen Berger. 

Produced by Elizabeth Avery Scott. Technical operation. Cspian Scott. Set design Elizabeth Avery Scott. Production assistant Danielle Coles. Performed by James Scott  Honest Puck Theatre The Mill Theatre Dairy Road Fyshwick. June 28-July 2.

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins


James Scott in Underneath The Lintel

James Scott is a consummate storyteller. Alone on stage for eighty minutes he takes his audience on an intriguing and compelling search for the identity of a mysterious borrower who has returned an overdue book to the library in the small Dutch town of Hoofddorp, after 113 years. Scott plays an unremarkable librarian who is drawn into the improbable possibility that the book was returned by the actual borrower. His quest quickly becomes an obsession as he uncovers a series of clues that serve as evidence that becomes more and more puzzling and sets him on an irresistible journey from a Chinese laundry in London in 1913, a tram in Bonn in 1912, the estate of Lord Derby in 1756 to a love letter in 1906 and eventually to Brisbane Australia. How could the man who would not sit down in Bonn and who owned a dog that would not sit down in quarantine have in his possession a dry cleaning ticket from  a Chinese laundry in London seventy three years earlier lead him to a pair of trousers that reveal a PO Box number in China? How could a man known simply as A on the return slip have in his possession a copy of Baedeker’s Guide Book that takes him around the globe and back and forth in time through historical eras and events, projected on the back wall of the intimate Mill Theatre? The librarian decides to trace the steps of the mysterious borrower, uncovering his impressive evidence in the process. His search takes him back to the myth of the cobbler who spurned Christ underneath his lintel on the path to Golgotha and was cursed to wander the world until the Second Coming. Was this the man whom mythology had marked as immortal? Was this the man who could never sit down? And was this Ahasuerus most commonly known as the Wandering Jew? Was he the accursed borrower, condemned to travel the world aimlessly.

James Scott as The Librarian in Underneath the Lintel

Glen Berger’s play is the ideal vehicle for Scott’s talents as a storyteller who can excite curiosity, capture and captivate an audience with enticing leads, bemuse with humourous digressions, and evoke philosophical musings. The search to identify the borrower and extract the enormous fine becomes a quest for identity and an affirmation of life’s purpose and existence. In an act of defiance after being sacked for leaving his work to pursue his quest, the librarian performs the ultimate act of self-assertion by carving the words I Was Here into his desk.

In the intimacy of the Mill Theatre, Scott’s performance unravels a tale of mystery that effectively captures the moments of quirky humour or the regret at love’s lost opportunity.  From Bonn to Buchenwald and all corners of the globe Scott leads us to the librarian’s epiphany in a performance that is both heartwarming and illuminating. Sadly, Honest Puck Theatre’s season is short and one can only hope that this revival  of Scott’s 2015 performance will soon be revived again for a wider audience to enjoy.