The phrase "community theater" evokes good intentions and bad results, well-meaning artistic ventures of little value to anyone that's not actually acting in the show. Portland Playhouse seems determined to shake some new vitality into the tired term, not merely via rhetoric about celebrating the "complexity of our shared human experience" (though that quote was pulled directly from their press materials), but by creating a community space that benefits more than just those onstage. The audience is encouraged to relax on comfy couches, snack during the show, enjoy a free beer from MacTarnahan's—even get up and use the bathroom if they need to. The resulting atmosphere is convivial and low-key, locally unmatched for comfort and lack of pretension.

There's still the issue of the show itself, of course: Playwright Theresa Rebeck's Mauritius is about stamp collecting, and sisters who hate each other, and old grudges that fester restlessly but are never aired. As sisters Jackie (Nikki Weaver) and Mary (KB Mercer) argue about the ownership of a valuable stamp collection, their headbutting about family, obligation, and the true nature of value adds up to a more thought-provoking whole than any two-line summary would do justice.

Director David Seitz has an overeager hand, prone to exuberant outbursts where moderation would be more effective—the show is at its best when cast members are allowed to relax into their roles. But so what if Seitz's direction has all the subtlety of a golden retriever that really wants to play fetch—Mauritius is generally enjoyable, and if you have to go pee after drinking all that free beer, you're totally allowed.