by DICK KEREKES
Players by the Sea opened the dark comedy Fuddy Meers on March l3th. This was week later than originally announced due to a death in the family of a cast member. The show will continue through March 27. Call 249-2089 for reservations.
David Lindsay-Abaire’s absurdist farce centers around a woman named Claire, who has a type of amnesia called psychogenic, so that she wakes up every day, not knowing who she is, or what she did the day before. Claire is played by Amy Allen Farmer, who besides doing some marvelous singing on stage, has played some pretty kooky characters but in this play is probably the most normal person you can find in the show. She seems sincere in her child-like manner looking for her identify aided by her husband Richard, who has a written note book with photos to guide her through her day.
Jason Collins plays Richard as sort of a cross between Robin Williams and Steve Martin, and is hilarious especially in the scene where he is questioned by a cop about smoking pot and explains he had been ordered to do so by a medical doctor who has no hands so can’t write prescriptions. He kidnaps Heidi the tough but weird cop played Miranda Lawson.
Early in the play Claire is kidnapped by a strange limping man who is blind in one eye, deaf in one ear, and talks with a lisp and wears a ski mask! He claims he is her brother. Robert Banks, in his PBTS debut, is a real Looney who gets stabbed in the back in Act II and gets the wound sewn up by Heidi the cop. (I did mention this is a farce, didn’t I?)
Everyone winds up at Gertie’s house, who is Claire’s mother. Gertie, as played by Marcia Morgan-Cook, may be the most unusual character you have ever encountered in theatre. Gertie is a stroke victim suffering from aphasia, a condition that has left her speech garbled, and her words come out broken and twisted. So that “Hold on a second” becomes “Hoe-down-do-sicken”, “This is Gertie Mason” becomes “Isis Geht Maso” and the title of the play comes from Gertie when she describes the mirrors found in funhouses at fairs and her “Funny Mirrors” becomes “Fuddy Meers”. Marcia is a talented actress and uses a lot of body language so we sort of understand what she is trying to say.
Well, if you thought that this was all the wacky characters in this play, hold on since there are a couple more. Gary Baker is perfectly cast and is over the top as Millet, an ex-con friend of the limping man. Millet is mentally unstable man who talks through a foul mouthed hand puppet, Hinky Binky. James Holler is the son Kenny, a troubled teenager who smokes pot. Actually you can’t blame him considering the dysfunctional family and friends he has. You could certainly make a case for legalization of marijuana in his case.
Set Designer David Paul really turned on the creative juices to come up with the marvelous revolving surreal set that defies description, you have to see it. I loved the basement scene with its tunnel actually going into another part of the building; equally delightful was his stage “automobile”.
Want to do a play with chaotic and zany characters? You can do any better than to call Shirley Sacks to direct. She has an uncanny knack for casting just the right people in every part as she did in Fuddy Meers and then inspiring them to excellent performances. Next up for the talented lady, Urinetown this summer right here at Players.
You are going to love the scene changes done swiftly by a crew dressed in black and wearing orange day glow ski masks. Under the direction of Stage Manager Kat MacLeod, the changes are as much fun as the play.
If you are a fan of Christopher Durang, you are going to like this play. Lindsay-Abiare was Durang’s student at Julliard and you can see a lot of Durang’s influence in Fuddy Meers. Be warned almost all the characters use profanity. If you like your comedy on the madcap and bizzare side, Fuddy Meers is for you. Yes, the plot which sounds confusing, sorts its self at the end!!!!
by DICK KEREKES