By - Apr 15th, 2008 02:52 pm
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By Charise Dawson

The Boulevard Ensemble Studio Theatre, located at 2252 S. Kinnickinnic, opened the world premiere of Chad M. Rossi’s Eureka! on Wednesday, April 9. The play runs through Sunday, April 27.

Modern theatre needs new writers. According to Artistic Director Mark Bucher, theatre competes with television, film and technical writing. Without new theatre writers, audiences would suffer through endless re-stagings of Arsenic and Old Lace and Nunsense. New playwrights and new scripts attract new audiences, provide new opportunities for actors and demand a collaborative partnership with all of the talents on board.

Eureka!, a new play by a new writer, is a perfect example of the seeds that a fresh production can sow. According to Bucher, pages, subplots and an entire character were cut from Rossi’s original script over the course of one month of rehearsals. Now it’s up to the audience and critics to test the piece and provide valuable feedback to the playwright. In turn, the playwright will continue to develop his piece.

The comedy takes place in modern-day Milwaukee and features two male roommates under the wiles of two female friends. It explores what can happen to a male friendship beyond the college years and takes a compelling look at the driver/follower relationship on both the platonic level and the romantic level.

Generally, the male/female pairings produce more chemistry than the friendly banter between the men. The first half of the script is devoted entirely to the men in the four-person cast, and the interplay between the two becomes strained over time. The play spins its wheels for too long before the women enter to infuse the story with more life.

The characters are credibly sketched, though each seems a bit one-dimensional during his or her time on stage. There is the dreamer, the achiever, the bitch and the free-spirit. A lack of reversals, transformations and surprises keep the characters from going beyond a “type.”

Bucher attempts to play up the script’s comedic aspects by adding a more rigorously physical dimension to the acting than the text might imply. The result seems discordantly cartoonish, although there are some very effective choices in the scene between Clyde and Teri (Jason Krukowski and Rachel Lewandowski). The actress suggests an impromptu after-bar dance party and tries to coax her partner into dancing. The physicality was wonderfully awkward and offbeat.

The director’s notes affirm that this is an attempt to fully “produce” new work rather than simply “develop” it. But while Eureka! may be on the right track, both the script and Bucher’s interpretation feel distinctly as if they are still in the “development” phase. VS

For more insight on Eureka!, Read Charise Dawson’s interview with Chad M. Rossi.
Eureka! stars Rachael Lau (Nancy), Rachel Lewandowski (Teri), Cesar Gamino (Wayne) and Jason Krukowski (Clyde). All performances are at the Ensemble’s theatre space, located at 2252 South Kinnickinnic. For tickets and information, call 414.744.5757 or visit the Boulevard online.

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