THE NERD (Bucks County Playhouse): 60-second review

THE NERD at Bucks County Playhouse. Photo by Mark Garvin.

THE NERD at Bucks County Playhouse. Photo by Mark Garvin.

Annie Simon’s costumes for THE NERD are utterly spectacular. Larry Shue’s 1979 farce, currently in production at New Hope’s Bucks County Playhouse, is very much of its era, and Simon’s array of leisure suits, bellbottoms, and polyester shirts immediately transports the audience back to the waning days of the disco generation. There’s even a crushed-blue tuxedo that might make you think you took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up stuck in your parents’ prom album.

Would that Shue’s comedy about the limits of loyalty and friendship held up as well. Essentially a two-hour set-up for a two-minute punchline, this material has clearly seen better days. Marc Vietor’s production, cast with an array of earnest actors unable to put across the zanier elements of the text, is almost entirely laugh-free. Matters aren’t helped by Maruti Evans’ conceptual set or Thom Weaver’s abrasive lighting, both all wrong for farce. Even the opening night audience—stacked, as usual, with family, friends, and other boosters—greeted the proceedings with tepid enthusiasm. But at least the groovy costumes can momentarily take our minds off the decidedly square play surrounding them.
[Bucks County Playhouse, 70 S. Main Street, New Hope]; June 23-July 15, 2017; bcptheater.org.

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About the author

Cameron Kelsall

Cameron Kelsall has been writing about theater, classical music and the arts for more than ten years. He currently contributes to several Philadelphia-based publications, including Phindie, Broad Street Review and Talkin' Broadway, and reviews Broadway and Off-Broadway productions for Exeunt Magazine. Cameron also serves as a judge for the Barrymore Awards. You can follow him on Twitter @CameronPKelsall.