Highly Recommended*****

Have you ever browsed a collectible shop? Sometimes, we get confused and think, this is a junk store, carrying things that evidently no one wants, But, for those who enjoy the thrill of finding something rare or lost ( or what appears to be lost) forever, these are exciting shops to visit. Many times, in the old days, while walking on Southport Avenue, or Wells Street or even up north in Evanston, I have peered into a windo where an old lunch box was on a shelf. A lunch box from my era ( which is a loooong time ago). And how about sports stuff? There are stores everywhere with baseball cards of great value as well as other memorabilia. And then there are comic books- whoa! The list of items that are, or can be priceless goes on and on. That is what First Folio’s newest production, “Salvage” now making its World Premiere on their intimate stage in Oak Brook is in reality about.

This is a two character play, that might have been written without an intermission, but director Alison C. Vesley opted to allow the audience to think about what they are seeing and added the 15 minute intermission, which makes the total run time 105 minutes.Written by Joseph Zettelmaier, “Salvage” is filled with little sub stories as we meet the owner of a collectible shop, Jason ( well played by Tyler Rich). His shop is located in Detroit, which as we all know is a city in a state where bankruptcy is knocking on the door. Jason loves his “stuff”, but is not doing enough business to pay his bank-note, so it could be very soon, that he will join his city and state, on the streets. Enter, 

Sarah Smith ( a glorious portrayal by the vivacious Melanie Keller) who has a strange old postcard that she is trying to find the value of. Jason, finding his new customer quite stunning and knowing that what she has brought into his shop is of greater value than she could ever know, decides to help her make a sale of the items . During this period, Jason finds himself more attracted to Sarah and what was a business relationship soon becomes much more as she takes him out for a nice dinner and ends up spending the night. As it turns out, it appears that when her father passed away, a man that she had no great love for, he left behind items that she was unaware of. As we end act one, a large trunk is in the middle of the stage, filled with items that Jason will gladly find buyers for. An old classic comic book, worth over $30,000 and a Satchel Paige baseball card that may be priceless. What happens as these two fall deeper and deeper in love, is that more of their story keeps unraveling. In order not to ruin the mystery of this piece and the cleverness of Zettelmaier, I cannot tell you any more about how the story continues except to tell you that there are secrets, both hers and in the end a major one on his part that will have you shaking your head. We see the love and the chemistry between these two. We are hopeful that they will have a real happy ending and a sit turns out, the ending is truly what it was meant to be.  Vesely has hit the nail on the head with her interpretation of the script.

For those of you who know the First Folio stage located at the Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st street and Route 83 in Oak Brook, you know that the stage is in what was a chapel in years past and there is no curtain on the stage, so upon entering the intimate theater, one must take notice of the set, an amazing collectible shop designed by Angela Weber Miller ( which I am sure will be nominated for a Jeff Award this season), filled with items that we would all want to have a stake in ownership of. Casey Schillo’s props are as high in quality as they are in quantity and it appears that a great deal of work was put forth in making sure of the accuracy of each and every item- BRAVO!

The music and sound by Christopher Kriz adds a certain mystery to the action and the interludes between scenes. The lighting for the most part ( Shelly Holland) was fine, but there were a few scenes where the audience had to struggle to see the characters faces. The costumes (Elsa Hitner) and the crew (William Collins, Stage Manager and his assistant Sarah West, kept the flow moving well.

Remember there is no behind the curtain at First Folio so the tech people are responsible for making sure of a smooth running show and they did just that. “Salvage” will continue through April 27th with performances as follows: Wednesdays at 8 p.m. Fridays at 8 p.m. Saturdays at 8 p.m. Sundays at 3 p.m. Tickets range from $30-$37, which is a bargain for theater of this quality and students and seniors get even more off ( $26-$37) and they can be purchased by calling 630-986-8067 or online at www.firstfolio.org There are scheduled  post show discussions: Wednesday evenings after the show, with the director and performers. There are lots of parking spaces on the grounds and I suggest, now that the weather is breaking, coming a bit early and enjoying a brisk walk on the grounds and also visiting the art gallery display in the Estate itself. It won’t be long before First Folio will begin its Shakespeare on the green with this year’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor” opening July 9th. If you have not witnessed a Shakespeare production on the lawn at First Folio, make it a MUST for this year. It is an experience to remember. To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Salvage”