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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Uneven Chemistry

Theater Review

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The Boulevard Theatre closes its season with the premiere of local playwright Chad M. Rossi’s Eureka!, a coming-of-age love story/buddy-comedy set in Milwaukee. Cesar Gamino and Jason Krukowski play Wayne and Clyde: a couple of guys in their late-20s sharing an apartment. Clyde’s a dreamer who wants to reform society. Wayne has a stable job and dates a dominant, conservative woman named Nancy (Rachael Lau). Clyde feels threatened by this until he finds his own love interest in the free-spirited Teri (Rachel Lewandowski).

While the cast has solid chemistry, they are unable to do much with a script as unimaginative as Rossi’s. At its heart, there is a lot of potential in Eureka!, but with the exception of a few staggeringly brilliant lines, nearly all of it goes unrealized. Gamino and Lau manage to transcend the script in subtle ways. At one point, Wayne is presenting an engagement ring to Nancy, who doesn’t seem to have any reaction to it. Gamino’s portrayal of Wayne’s confusion over this is clever: For the briefest fraction of a second, he turns the jewelry box to look inside it as if to make certain the ring is still there. Gamino and Lau both manage to infuse a number of little comic details like this into their performances.

Krukowski and Lewandowski are another matter altogether. As much as they try to make things work, they don’t have enough stage experience to pull thoroughly entertaining performances out of appallingly boring characters. Teri’s New Age spirituality and progressive feminism seem to be drawn almost exclusively from pop-culture stereotypes. That said, Lewandowski shows a charming amount of talent for a first-time actress in simply being able to breathe the slightest amount of depth into the character. Clyde’s situation is even worse as it is more central to the plot. His lofty ideas of societal reform are uninspired. He seems more like an angst-ridden hi

gh-school freshman than the iconoclastic intellectual the script seems to make him out to be.As his philosophy is not the center of the play, it doesn’t have to be intricately developed, but without any compelling structure to it, the more serious side of the character ends up coming across as comically flat. If the characters had just a bit more depth on the page, the plot could go in a far more interesting direction.

Eureka! runs through April 27 at the Boulevard Theatre

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