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The Nerd
a Comedy
by Larry Shue

COMPANY : Rosewater Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Rosewater Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 3713

SHOWING : April 23, 2010 - May 22, 2010



One of the funniest plays ever written, this extraordinarily inventive, side-splitting comedy was first presented by the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, then produced in Great Britain, then went on to Broadway. The action centers on the hilarious dilemma of a young architect who is visited by a man he's never met but who saved his life in Vietnam — the visitor turning out to be an incredibly inept, hopelessly stupid "nerd" who outstays his welcome with a vengeance.

Now an aspiring young architect in Terre Haute, Indiana, Willum Cubbert has often told his friends about the debt he owes to Rick Steadman, a fellow ex-GI whom he has never met but who saved his life after he was seriously wounded in Vietnam. He has written to Rick to say that, as long as he is alive, "you will have somebody on Earth who will do anything for you" — so Willum is delighted when Rick shows up unexpectedly at his apartment on the night of his thirty-fourth birthday party. But his delight soon fades as it becomes apparent that Rick is a hopeless "nerd" — a bumbling oaf with no social sense, little intelligence and less tact. And Rick stays on and on, his continued presence among Willum and his friends leading to one uproarious incident after another, until the normally placid Willum finds himself contemplating violence — a dire development which, happily, is staved off by the surprising "twist" ending of the play.

Tansy McGinnis Jaclyn Costello
Warnock Waldgrave Lee Lasseter
Axel Hammond Reggie Oldham
Willum Cubbert Mark Olsen
Rick Steadman Charlie Rogers
Clelia Waldgrave Heather Yager
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As It Should Be Done
by playgoer
Saturday, April 24, 2010
I've seen "The Nerd" a couple of times before, and I've always felt that the play is a wan precursor to Larry Shue's masterpiece, "The Foreigner." It certainly is forgettable. In viewing Rosewater Theatre's production, I was amazed at how many times I felt myself thinking, "Gee, I don't remember that in the play." In this case, that was all for the good. This production does things in a way that makes the play shine as I've never seen it shine before.

A large portion of the credit goes to Charlie Rogers, in the title role. His performance has the zany edge of improvised comedy. I'm sure some was actually improvised, to cover minor glitches that are bound to happen in such a prop-heavy play, but it was the feeling of improvisation in giving scripted lines that added a special delight to his performance. His boundless energy and variety kept the play moving along, even in those sections where the nerd is supposed to be tiresome.

The Nerd himself is surrounded by a collection of performances that work together astoundingly well. Mark Olsen, as Willum Cubbert, makes very nice transitions on his way to utter frustration and finally self-assertion. Jackie Costello, as his girlfriend Tansy, adds a cheerful sweetness to all her lines, making her come across winningly as the girl we want to see Willum end up with. Reggie Oldham, as the curmudgeon Axel, adds his own variety of tongue-in-cheek, sly humor.

The Waldgrave family, in a smaller set of roles, also make an impression. Kyle Wilkerson, as the child Thor, plays a brat with brio. Heather Yager, as the wife Clelia, does a wonderful job of making her hairdo mirror the disintegrating inner life of her character. Lee Lasseter, as the husband Ticky, rages through his role with comic frustration, garnering lots of laughs along the way.

The action takes place on an in-the-round set with a split-level addition on the far end. The action works well on this set. What really impresses, though, are the props and Hallowe'en costume. The costume in particular adds to the action by giving Thor real motivation for his reactions. All the show's costumes are good, with Jackie Costello looking especially fetching in hers.

Lisa Sherouse Riley, the director, has brought the whole she-bang together with her trademark flair. It must be tiring to mount show after show at the Rosewater, but the momentum there only seems to be building, with another excellent production now appearing on the boards. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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