Nothing Too Impressive in FMCT’s ‘Nerd’
Published: Thursday, February 13, 2014
Updated: Thursday, February 13, 2014 09:02
For its winter warm-up production, the Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre brought Larry Shue’s “The Nerd” to area residents last Friday, February 7. As a farce, this show aims to lull its audiences into a mindset where winter doesn’t exist and everyone can enjoy a funny show for two hours or so.
“The Nerd” entertains, that much is straightforward, but its laughs are cheaply earned and there is nothing overly impressive about its setting, scenes, or characters. Architect William Cubbert (Chris Horsager) is visited by the man who saved his life in Vietnam – an irritating, bumbling oaf named Rick Stedman (Jay Nelson) – who inspects chalk for a living and speaks with just the whiniest voice imaginable.
Very soon after Rick’s arrival, Willum, his girlfriend Tansy (Nicole LeBlanc), and best friend Axel (Eric Kloster) are ready to hit the roof after bearing the nerd’s antics. From his tambourine practice late at night, to awful scenes in public, to his inability for the slightest of conversation, Rick is about the most annoying houseguest one could want, but the bad news is he’s here to stay.
Rick essentially moves with Willum, ruining his architecture sketches for a long-suffering client (Jeff Rondeau, a real highlight of the cast), and just being an all-around pest. Other characters also suffer under Rick’s ineptitude, including the wife (Kayla Rice) and son of Willum’s client Mr. Waldgrave. A party game among everyone on the night Rick arrives ends in disaster when Rick drops everybody’s shoes and socks into a pond, sending Rondeau’s character into a very watchable rage.
Another character worthy of note is Eric Kloster’s Axel Hammond. A sarcastically witty drama critic, Axel always has a line up his sleeve, however obscure or abstract it may be. Kloster fits the role very nicely, and his delivery was always well-timed and dry to the bone.
However, there were a few things in this show that worked against it, particularly a scene involving an impromptu voodoo ritual to scare off Rick. This moment of “The Nerd” bordered on slapstick, which as perhaps the cheapest form of comedy, is highly undesirable in shows where wit and high humor are supposed to propel the plot.
Rick Stedman himself was another thumbs-down here. His unlikable demeanor and overall ineptitude at life made him out like a zit that just wouldn’t pop. It was unclear as to whether the audiences should like or loathe this character, as he just didn’t do anything endearing. If audiences liked any character, it was Willum, the anguished architect torn between letting the nerd stay or sending his guardian angel packing.
For its opening night, this show did succeed. “The Nerd” won its laughs, however dubiously, and though it would have been nicer to have less physical humor and more of a likable title character, viewers can just be happy that they shooed away the winter blues for one night.
“The Nerd” continues its run at The Stage at Island Park at 333 4th St. S. from Feb. 13 to 15 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $16 for adults, $12 for students and seniors, and $6 for children, and are available at the box office and by phone at 701-235-6778.