The Nerd at Playcrafters Barn Theatre Through September 25

As the lights come up on Playcrafters' production of Larry Shue's The Nerd, we find ourselves in the Terre Haute, Indiana, living room of architect Willum Cubbert (Josh Kahn), whose pseudo-girlfriend, Tansy (Jessica Nicol), and drama-critic friend, Axel (Chris White), are throwing him a surprise birthday party. For about 20 minutes, the three characters chat, and all the while, the light from the evening sky - seen through Willum's living-room windows in the rear of the stage - is going through the most amazing transformation. The reddish-pink hues from outside begin to subtly shift to a lovely magenta, and within time, they will have morphed into a deep, midnight blue with a hint of purple; it's a beautiful, subtle effect, well-achieved by designer Jennifer Kingry.

If Peter Jackson taught the world anything with his epic three-movie The Lord of the Rings series, it's that audiences want their Tolkien to be faithful to the original work. So when Susan Holgersson started comparing J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit with Patricia Gray's script, "I started to realize there was a situation there," she said. Playcrafters Barn Theatre decided about a year ago to do the play, and Holgersson was selected as its director in August.

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