Funny Business in "Fuddy Meers"
As is so often the case in life, things are not what they appear to be in David Lindsay-Abaire’s "Fuddy Meers". The drama-comedy will be performed at the Long Beach Playhouse through Saturday, November 24.
In the play, a woman named Claire suffers from a rare form of amnesia-wakes up each day with no memory of the day before. Claire’s husband and son must imprint the facts of her life anew as each day begins. As her husband is showering one morning, a strange man appears and informs Claire that her husband is trying to kill her. We also meet Claire’s stroke-addled mother, a claustrophobic policewoman and a foul-mouthed hand puppet, as Claire seeks to discover the truth about her situation.
Lindsay-Abaire, who has most recently authored the award-winning "Rabbit Hole" and "Shrek: The Musical," originally wrote "Fuddy Meers" as his graduate school thesis, premiering it on Broadway in 1999. The title is drawn from the way Claire’s mother pronounces "funny mirrors," a phrase which may hold the key to Claire’s mysterious past.
Long Beach Playhouse, the oldest continuously operating community theatre west of the Mississippi, is currently celebrating over 80 years of exemplary theatre presentations for the Southern California region with nearly 1,000 productions between its two theatres. Playhouse veteran Robert Craig is serving as the director of their latest presentation, "Fuddy Meers."
"It’s about family dysfunctions and how sometimes there are some things we want to forget," Craig told The Rage Monthly of his latest effort and "there are also things we want to remember." He went on to explain that Claire’s unusual malady is technically referred to as "psychogenic (or dissociative) amnesia," which is usually brought on by a traumatic experience.
Craig previously directed such well-received plays as "The Miracle Worker", "Educating Rita" and "Laughter on the 23rd Floor" at Long Beach Playhouse. He said he was attracted to "Fuddy Meers" as an opportunity to "take the audience inside the person’s head." Craig also promises that "it makes you laugh--it is funny-and at the same time it makes you think. Lindsay-Abaire has a great way of dealing with dark subject matter with humor."
Although the play doesn’t feature any LGBT characters, Craig assures us that it still has relevance to LGBT theatergoers. "There are several characters who I would call asexual, and one such character confronts the more abrasive aspects of life through his hand puppet; the cast also includes several gay members, who are great." It would also seem that most LGBT viewers can naturally identify with any play dealing with family dysfunction.
Craig, who earned masters degrees in both theatre and theatre history at Cal State Fullerton and has worked at numerous area theatres since, had nothing but praise for the Long Beach Playhouse. "The Playhouse’s organization is amazing," he said. "It is so wonderfully detailed because they are opening a new show every three weeks either upstairs (in their Studio theatre) or downstairs (in the Mainstage theatre)." The Playhouse annually serves 35,000 people and boasts 300 committed volunteers.
"I think ’Fuddy Meers’ is a very entertaining piece of theatre and a very challenging piece of theatre," Craig concluded. Sounds like it will be right up the alley of many LGBT theatergoers.
Long Beach Playhouse is located at 5021 E. Anaheim Street in Long Beach. For more information or to purchase tickets call 562.494.1014 or go to lbplayhouse.org.