Eureka Day

“Aurora’s ‘Eureka Day’ goes from ‘so Berkeley’ to universal… Had “Eureka Day” merely taken anti-vaxxers to task without making fun of them, seriously considered where they’re coming from without elevating what remains a fringe view, that alone would have been plenty of achievement. But Aurora Theatre Company’s world premiere commission achieves still more.

In envisioning a very liberal and very privileged Berkeley private school, Jonathan Spector’s play is so crisply defined that you might have to periodically remind yourself that you haven’t already met these characters in real life… Josh Costello’s direction makes this group as intimate as family…

What follows is an ingeniously communicated total failure of communication. “Framing” and “values” become magic words that put the kibosh on any actual exchange of ideas. “Uncomfortable” is an all-powerful trump card. But the alternative is even worse. In one uproarious scene, Spector becomes one of the first playwrights to find a way to make a Facebook comments section cesspool work as live theater. As the executive committee hosts a Facebook Live for the rest of the school’s parents, the torrent of their vitriol musters so much momentum as to become like a physical force in the room.

Spector proves as much a master of pathos as of comedy. The sickness of “Eureka Day” of course isn’t just the automatic tearjerker that is ill children, but the polarization of our politics and the poverty of our discourse. We humans have no way of truly accommodating, either in language or in policy, an irreconcilable difference. That’s even if we do all the right things, like explain the life story that makes a view more understandable, then listen, then empathize. Even after all that, our flaw, that we must always pick a winner, prevails — which means someone has to lose.”

-Lily Janiak, SF Chronicle

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Preview article about playwright Jonathan Spector in the San Francisco Chronicle. JonathanAndJosh