TheatreVCU’s upcoming production schedule is always fun to peruse because it usually gives me whiplash. I wrote about this experience last summer and a look at this coming fall delivers much the same reaction. Starting off with a crazy farce, “The Nerd,” and then following it up with a play from ancient Greece that is one of the cruelest of tragedies of all time (“Medea”) seems like an attempt to pick two plays as dramatically different as possible. Those are the fall shows; then in the spring, the duo of the creepy, scary “When You Comin’ Back Red Ryder?” and the happy, be-bopping “Smokey Joe’s Café” are similar in their striking dissimilarity.
A line-up like this always conjures images for me of the shows running in rep and the characters from one show mistakenly wandering into the other.
Medea: "Forego my resolutions, O my soul, Force not the parent's hand to slay the child."
Willum: "Hey, leave your kids alone! If you wanna kill someone, I’ve got this guy who’s been hanging around my apartment you can help me with. You boys want a sucker?"
Later, Willum’s dinner party ends tragically/hilariously when he puts on the coat he’s received for his birthday and it explodes into flames, leading to a raucous fire extinguisher fight.
This is what happens when theater nerds get silly. As you can see, it’s not pretty.
Just as an aside: Virginia has a pretty horrible connection to "The Nerd:" gifted playwright Larry Shue, who also wrote the oft-performed "The Foreigner" died in a plane crash in Weyer's Cave, Virginia; he was only 39. Imagine what additional comic masterpieces he might have produced...