September 30, 2002
ACT's 'Fuddy Meers'is an emotional roller coaster ride
by Deborah Stone
Arts and Entertainment
Picture waking up one day not knowing who or where you are. Now picture this same scenario repeating itself day after day.
This is the problem that Claire (Cindy Basco), an amnesiac and the heroine of David Lindsay-Abaire's bizarre comedy, "Fuddy Meers," experiences each morning, until one day the pattern is disrupted and all havoc ensues.
The show, now on stage at ACT Theatre, takes audiences through one wild day in Claire's life: a day filled with an assortment of odd characters and crazy experiences.
There's a limping, lisping, partially blind and deaf man in a ski mask (R. Hamilton Wright), who alleges to be Claire's brother, his equally strange partner (Peter Crook) who uses a sock puppet to communicate, a man in hospital personnel attire who claims to be Claire's husband, a stoned teen (Tim Gouran), who says he is her son and an overly aggressive lady cop.
They all eventually convene at Claire's childhood home where her mother Gertie (Lori Larsen) still lives. There, the confusion mounts until the true identities of these people are revealed.
Bit by bit, Claire puts the puzzle pieces of her distorted past together until she grasps who she is and remembers the trauma she experienced, which directly led to her amnesia.
Watching "Fuddy Meers," is similar to being at a wild carnival, filled with funhouses, roller coasters, bright lights and loud noises, yet behind it all there is this sinister feeling that all is definitely not what it pretends to be.
The pace is frenzied, the volume intensifies and physical comedy turns to violence. One minute the actions and witty dialogue make the audience laugh out loud; the next moment all that is heard is a collective gasp and uncomfortable silence.
Playwright Lindsay-Abaire takes pleasure in surprises and in the twists and turns his script makes on its way to its poignant conclusion. ACT's production, deftly directed by ACT's associate artistic director Kurt Beattie, has a cast of talented actors who make the most of their comedic and dramatic skills. Their energy level remains high throughout the show and they take to their roles with maniacal gusto.
Of particular note is Lori Larsen, as Claire's batty mother, who gives a stand-out, top-of-the-line comic performance and Tim Gouran, as Kenny.
Gouran plays his part with realistic anger and angst, garnering much sympathy for the troubled teen, who simply desires his mother back the way she used to be.
Set designer Hugh Landwehr's inventive and visually entertaining staging adds to the carnival atmosphere of the play and makes the most of the Allen Theatre's in-the-round space.
Objects dangle from above, only to descend later, while other pieces magically pop out of the floor, creating whole new scenes in seconds.
"Fuddy Meers" is billed as a comedy, but be forewarned: it's a dark one and underneath all that farce is some real sadness.
The show runs through Oct. 13. For ticket information, call (206) 292-7676.