By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
And on it goes right up to a goofy shaggy dog of an ending that's like something out of Sleuth. Except in Terre Haute. With horn rims.
No, it's not art, but it's entertaining as all get-out (and Pocket's little kitchen makes a decent plate of nachos to munch during the show). Chris Dover, who bears a strong resemblance to the late Frank Gorshin, attacks his nerd persona with an arsenal of god-awful gestures, snorts and pratfalls that are equally hilarious and cringe-inducing. All the actors throw themselves into the wackiness with willing abandon, particularly young Merino as Thor. He's one funny little monster.
Shue, who found success with The Nerd and The Foreigner in the early 1980s, died in a plane crash in 1985 at the age of 39. His pair of comedies are mainstays of regional and community theaters. The Foreigner was revived on Broadway last season starring Matthew Broderick.
The Nerd shows off Shue's ability to send up the plain vanilla tastes of Midwesterners by layering reference upon reference. There's a fat man who enters drenched (for reasons too silly to get into) in large-curd cottage cheese. Characters joke about folk dancing with pork. And the nattering nerd himself professes his devotion to the bafflingly generic cartoon strip "Nancy." Come on, you have to love any playwright who recognizes the genius of Ernie Bushmiller.