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The Nerd at Old Mill Theatre

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Fantastically funny farce about pest of a houseguest
The Nerd, Old Mill Theatre, Serial Productions, comedy, play, performing arts, stage, Larry Shue, humour
Richard Hadler plays Rick Steadman, the title character in The Nerd.


How far would you go to get rid of an unwelcome houseguest It's a question explored in The Nerd, a side-splitting comedy from Serial Productions at the Old Mill Theatre, written by US playwright Larry Shue and directed by Joe Isaia and Rob Warner.

The story focuses on young architect Willum, visited by ex-GI Rick Steadman a man he has never met but saved Willum's life after he was seriously wounded in Vietnam. Willum is delighted when Rick shows up unexpectedly at his apartment on the night of his 34th birthday party, although Rick's awkward manner and inappropriate behaviour soon throws the occasion into shambles.

The Nerd, Old Mill Theatre, Serial Productions, comedy, play, performing arts, stage, Larry Shue, humour
Well, hi there! Got your tickets yet?

"As you can imagine, there are many embarrassing moments between Willum and his guests," Joe said. "Rick is a strange nerd who overstays his welcome with a vengeance and Willum goes to outrageous lengths to be rid of him. Essentially, it's a classic fish-out-of-water story.

"One of the challenges is keeping everything as real as possible while dishing out the laughs. We want the audience to identify and sympathise with our characters in what are sometimes extraordinary circumstances."

The Nerd, Old Mill Theatre, Serial Productions, comedy, play, performing arts, stage, Larry Shue, humour
It's hammer time for Clelia (Jacqui Warner, left) in The Nerd, much to the horror of Tansy (Kylie Isaia).


Acting and directing for nearly 30 years, Joe made his debut with Limelight Theatre and has gone on to work with the Old Mill, KADS, Marloo and Garrick Theatres, Serial Productions and the Graduate Dramatic Society in shows such as Blackadder, Breaker Morant, The King and I, Death of a Salesman, The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband and Macbeth. He had also directed numerous productions including Nuts, Revenge, Our Boys, Amy's View, Noises Off and Footloose.

"I had the good fortune to play the title role in The Foreigner last year, which was also written by Larry Shue," Joe said. "The success of the show led Serial Productions to take on the challenge of producing another comedy by the same playwright. As I was going to be away for the some of the performance dates and couldn't be in it, I put my hand up to direct the show."

The Nerd, Old Mill Theatre, Serial Productions, comedy, play, performing arts, stage, Larry Shue, humour
Co-director Rob Warner, second from right with actors Richard Hadler, Jacqui Warner and John Pomfret.


Co-director Rob Warner said The Nerd examined the lengths people go to in an effort to help friends and loved ones, even if that meant sometimes hilarious or humiliating results. "Expect a lot of laughter and some cringe-worthy awkwardness," he said.

"The character of Willum feels duty-bound to welcome and accept someone to whom he owes a deep debt but whose cluelessness threatens to ruin both his professional and personal lives. How much would you put up with from someone to whom you owe so much?"

The Nerd, Old Mill Theatre, Serial Productions, comedy, play, performing arts, stage, Larry Shue, humour
Alan Gill, left, Rhett Clarke and Richard Hadler are appearing in The Nerd.


Alan Gill plays Axel Hammond, someone who is always cracking jokes and laughing at his own expense. "Ultimately, has a heart of gold and cares deeply about his two close friends," he said.

"He wants to see them get everything they want in life, although he'd hardly come out and admit it. Axel really wants to help Willum get through a sticky situation while having a bit of fun at the same time."

The main challenge, according to Alan, is trying to keep a straight face. "We have a superb cast with great comedic timing which, combined with a hilarious script, means it's awfully hard at times to keep it all together," he said. "I hope the audience laughs at it as much as we have while rehearsing!"

The Nerd, Old Mill Theatre, Serial Productions, comedy, play, performing arts, stage, Larry Shue, humour
Tansy (Kylie Isaia, centre) listens intently to Axel (Alan Gill) and Willum (Rhett Clarke) in The Nerd.


First performing at age 12 with Roleystone Theatre in 1999, Alan made a brief return to the stage in 2007 with Romeo and Juliet at Marloo Theatre. After a 10-year hiatus, he appeared in Terry Pratchett's Mort and has since performed with AgeLink, KADS, Blak Yak, Marloo, Playlovers and Garrick Theatres in productions such as Between Wind and Water, Touched By The Hand, Henry V, 1916: A Love Story, Ladies in Black and Star Quality.

"I was approached by Serial Productions to take on the role of Axel in The Nerd, which was a very humbling experience," Alan said. "When I read the script I knew Axel would be a lot of fun to play there's a lot of crazy things happening and he's usually in the thick of it. Serial Productions has a reputation for putting on high quality shows and it was too good an opportunity to pass up."

The Nerd, Old Mill Theatre, Serial Productions, comedy, play, performing arts, stage, Larry Shue, humour
Things get out of hand between Willum (Rhett Clarke, left) and Axel (Alan Gill) in The Nerd.


The Nerd plays at 7.30pm August 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 21, 22, 23 and 24 with 2pm matinees August 11 and 18. Tickets are $25, $22 concession book at www.trybooking.com/BDMTU. On August 16, 50 per cent proceeds will go to the WA Heart and Lung Transplant Foundation. The heritage-listed Old Mill Theatre is on the corner of Mends Street and Mill Point Road, South Perth (opposite the Windsor Hotel and Australia Post).

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Why? If you need a laugh, this will scratch that itch in an ever-so-satisfying way and it comes from a production team renowned for delivering top-notch comedies.
When: 7.30pm August 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 21, 22, 23 & 24; 2pm August 11 & 18
Where: Old Mill Theatre, Mends Street, South Perth
Cost: $25, $22 concession
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