Theatre Review - Eureka Day

SET in a progressive, private elementary school in California, Jonathan Spector’s play takes a satirical swipe at liberal American attitudes.

The parents on Eureka Day’s Executive Committee don’t make any decisions unless there is a consensus. But when in 2017 a mumps outbreak closes the school and the county health department advocate vaccinations, an argument breaks out between white anti-vaxxer Suzanne (Helen Hunt) and black newcomer, Carina (Susan Kelechi Watson).

They both have their reasons and the conflict is hard to reconcile. Don (Mark McKinney) the hippy headteacher who likes to read Rumi at the close of each meeting, proves increasingly ineffective and soon finds himself out of his depth.

When the committee call an emergency meeting via video conference, they become so embroiled in their own debates that they are unaware of the other parents’ online comments. Polite rejoinders are followed by heavy sarcasm; passive aggression turns to open hostility.

These are projected onto the back wall for our enjoyment in a hilarious scene which had the audience rocking with laughter.

It’s hard to believe that Eureka Day was written before the pandemic. Spector captures many of the conundrums we’ve recently faced around the Covid vaccinations, including misinformation and distrust of the scientists, and his observations are spot-on.

In the second act the two women fight it out. Suzanne is smugly confident she will trump Carina who she wrongly assumes is on financial aid.

The stakes are high. Whoever loses will have to withdraw their child from the school.

Rob Howell’s playful set hit the mark (keep an eye on the school bookcase), the performances are top-notch and Katy Rudd directs with a light touch.

Until October 31

Originally published by Camden New Journal