Eugene Wright seems to be the archetype of everything that isnt cool. But of course cool is all relative, and theres a striking contrast between Eugene (Evan Whitfield)confident in his nerdy knowledge of everythingand Miss Taylor (Anna Richardson)the once-popular girl turned obedience-loving teacher. Where Miss Taylor teaches the value of following rules, Eugene, a guest speaker for the class, encourages freethinking and civil disobedience. She stayed in their hometown, hes been roaming the country and is well-versed in pop culture, politics, and technology. Former SW writer John Longenbaughs script takes place in 1962, allowing him to exalt the world-famous coolness of Elvis and JFK, as well as future technologies like portable music players. Beyond the nostalgic references, though, Eugenes message is a timeless one, expressed in any number of contemporary Disney specials; Longenbaugh has just done it more articulately than, say, High School Musical. Whitfield is charming as an impassioned dweeb, even if we suspect a suave man lurking beneath the surface. Once he and Richardson get past an awkward improvisational openingits tough to energize an audience of 12they hit their stride, giving consistent, cool performances. BRENT ARONOWITZ ACT (700 Union St., 292-7676, acttheatre.org) will host a special one-night-only benefit performance, 8 p.m. Sun., Aug. 9. $35.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 7 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 9, 8 p.m. Starts: July 23. Continues through Aug. 8, 2009