BWW Reviews: Dramatic License Production's Funny Presentation of THE NERD
I would've written about Dramatic License Production's presentation of playwright Larry Shue's The Nerd sooner, but my computer crashed. Not once, but twice. It's fixed with the help of some technical assistance, but some things got lost in the process. Kind of like how I've generally felt about most productions of The Nerd that I've seen. The number is astounding since it's a community theatre staple, and yet none have really made me laugh. That's what makes DLP's staging so intriguing and entertaining. I'm finally seeing the play done justice by a sharp cast and finely tuned direction that allows the humor to shine through. So, this is another one of those times where my opinion is that you may have thought you'd seen the play before, but you really haven't.
Frustrated architect Willum Cubbert is about to lose his girlfriend Tansy to her upcoming job as a weather girl in another state, when an unexpected visitor shows up to throw another curve into his life. It seems Willum was in Vietnam and was injured when he wandered into foreign territory alone. But, his life was saved that day by a soldier he never had a chance to meet, Rick Steadman. Now that soldier is back for an extended visit to throw Willum's life into chaos because he's a complete "nerd". Oh, not a brilliant computer nerd in the modern sense of someone like software empire mogul Bill Gates, but a nerd from another time who fits the stereotype of a pocket protector carrying, broken glasses with tape holding them together wearing, social misfit. Complications and laughter ensue.
Jason Contini is easy going and generally laid back as the well meaning, but increasingly agitated Willum, and he's nicely paired with the lovely Taylor Pietz as Tansy McGinnis. B. Weller makes a vivid impression as their theatre critic friend, Axel Hammond, deftly delivering comic zingers that rarely miss their mark. John Reidy (Warnock Waldgrave) and Nicole Angeli (Clelia Waldgrave) are especially good as clientss of Willum who drop by for his birthday party. Reidy's just a really good fit for the part, and Angeli gets to indulge in some amusing business. Hayden Benbenek is solid as their spoiled and easily frightened son, Thor. Mike Wells does stellar work as Rick Steadman,taking over Willum's life with his outrageous demands and awkward behavior.
Director John Contini mines this material for its maximum comic potential and that approach really pays off. Kyra Bishop's scenic design and Lisa Hazelhorst's costumes evoke the tacky1980's when this "period pieces" takes place.
Go see The Nerd, especially if you've seen it before, because you might just catch some funny lines you missed the first time around. Dramatic License Production's The Nerd continues in the art space at Chesterfield Mall through May 18, 2014.