Fuddy Meers

Whoever names a play Fuddy Meers must be fearless, and playwright David Lindsay-Abaire's script confirms this supposition. The regional premiere of this dark comedy, now in production by the Curious Theatre Company, is populated with six eccentric characters, five of whom are pretending to be somebody they aren't, and the sixth who suffers from a rare form of amnesia.

Photo: Christopher Leo and Ethelyn Friend in Fuddy Mears
Christopher Leo as Philip
Ethelyn Friend as Claire
Photo by Todd Webster

Ethelyn Friend is Claire, who wakes up every morning with no memory of who she is or what happened to her. Friend's sunny and innocent portrayal creates an attractive and safe sanctuary at the center of distended memories, some of which hang from the ceiling and others that leak out of the demented bunch that control her life.

Eric Sanvold's Richard, Claire's husband, seems helpful and harmless at first, when greeting her with the book he's prepared to acclimate her to the world each morning, but as the story unfolds, we begin to wonder if he's not indoctrinating her. When Claire is kidnapped by her first husband, Philip, a passive-aggressive masterpiece in the hands of Christopher Leo, Sanvold reveals cracks in Richard's well-studied optimism, and we are set adrift in a tale where memory plays tricks like funhouse mirrors.

When everyone shows up at Claire's mother's house, the truth shifts faster than a Presidential Press Secretary's story retreating from Enron campaign contributions and pipelines through Afghanistan. Philip's sidekick, Millet, is a multiple-personality slipknot alternately cinched and unraveled by the infinitely pliable Frank Oden. Kathryn Gray as Gertie, Claire's mom, tantalizingly holds out the promise of having answers to Claire's past, but her language is veiled by a dialect that sounds like it is formed by a combination of aphasia and denture displacement.

Todd Webster, as Claire's son, Kenny, a sullen youth who finds refuge in pot from his rudderless mom and his controlling step-father, and Dee Covington, as Heidi, a prison cook masquerading as a traffic cop, round out the talented, zany ensemble.

Co-directed by Chip Walton and Christy Montour-Larson, Fuddy Meers softens us up with incessant hilarity all the while forcing us to question how our memory plays tricks on us to keep us sane—a fearlessly well-executed strategy. It runs through April 20th at the Acoma Center. 303-623-0524.

Bob Bows

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