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The Eulogist, at the Playground. Written by local improviser turned playwright Kevin Reome, with songs by Reome and Craig Jadown, this comedy has a premise with potential–a man leaves the corporate world to become a freelance eulogist–and contains some fine moments. The scenes in which the protagonist, Dan, is struggling to say something, anything, kind about someone he’d hardly known are particularly killing. But Reome never fully exploits his premise. The aspects of corporate life he chooses to skewer, especially the empty homilies of motivational speaking, have been done to death. And though he tries to make his characters three-dimensional, spending many minutes describing Dan’s dysfunctional Irish-Catholic family, he doesn’t quite have the knack for characters who are extreme enough to be funny yet warm enough to seem real.
It doesn’t help that Reome plays the protagonist himself. He’s likable enough onstage but rarely gives his performance enough energy to make Dan into someone we want to know. And Reome is not alone: stiff, awkward performances abound. Though no one in director David Castro’s six-member ensemble is flat-out awful, only Christopher Day as Dan’s eccentric Irish uncle seems capable, in fits and starts, of playing the script’s deeper chords or mining its full comic potential. And all the songs, though clever, would have been funnier performed by trained singers.