Currently playing at the Pentacle Theater is “The Nerd,” a comedy by Larry Shue. It’s the third production of the play given in the Theater’s 60-years, and it’s easy to see why; The Nerd is a high-energy romp with dynamic characters in conflict and a new development every five minutes to keep the audience laughing.
It’s a tale of a visit from a good-natured, disaster-laden jerk, and the desperate efforts of a group of people to rid themselves of his company. Along the way, hilarity ensues by way of both physical comedy and snappy dialogue.
As one of the characters says, “This is a desperate situation and it calls for something completely infantile.”
Willum (Brad Steiner) is a striving architect who is on thin ice with his boss, and whose girlfriend is about to take a job in a faraway city. In the army his life was saved by a man named Rick whom he has never actually met. When this same hero phones that he will be visiting, Willum looks forward to meeting him and showing his gratitude. As he has previously written Rick, “As long as I’m on earth you have someone who will do anything for you.”
The problem is that Rick (Michael Collins) turns out to be clueless and boorish to an extreme, disrupting Willum’s life on several fronts, putting Willum, who doesn’t want to go back on his word, in a bind. As things develop, Willum’s situation becomes more complicated, and his and his friend’s energies to solve the problem become even more feverish.
The cast is strong across the board, with standouts Tavis Evans as an overly helpful neighbor, Bryce Anderson as a believable foil and Jennifer Meyers as a woman who deals with stress by crushing dishware.
The Director is Geri Sanders, who, the night we saw the production, told us, “I loved directing this. I got to spend all summer laughing, and now I get to share it with everyone else.”
By Larry Shue
Pentacle Theater, West Salem
Through August 2