Saturday, June 28, 2008

Review: 'Fuddy Meers" at 2nd Story Theater

sunday, May 18, 2008; Posted: 6:51 PM - by Randy Rice

There is a lot to like about this production of Fuddy Meers, directed by 2nd Story’s Artistic Director Ed Shea.

There is David Lindsay-Abaire’s outrageous story, with as many twists and turns as there are lines to speak. I am tempted to say that it has everything but the kitchen sink…but…it has a kitchen sink. With a running time of an hour and fifteen minutes, the playwright tempers the over-the-top storytelling with brevity. It is a combination that seems rare. It works very well here.

Claire (Barbara McElroy) is a psychogenic amnesiac. Each evening as she goes to sleep her mind becomes a blank slate. Claire is married to Richard (Wayne Kneeland), a micromanaging martyr who revels in the co-dependent relationship. She has a teenage son named Kenny (Christopher O'Brien); complete with angst.

On this morning, like every other morning for the past two years, Claire is gently awakened by her husband, who patiently helps her sift through her confusion. That is where the similarities to ordinary days (if there are ordinary days) end. A Limping Man (F. William Oakes), wearing a mask, enters her bedroom and tells her that he is her brother and that she is in grave danger. He convinces her to leave with him and he spirits her away to her mother Gertie’s (Paula Faber) house.

The Limping Man has a dim-witted sidekick, Millet (Jonathon Jacobs) who constantly argues with his sock-puppet dog. As they arrive at her mother Gertie’s home, Claire is welcomed with open arms. Claire is naturally surprised to learn that her mother recently suffered a stroke, which has left her with terrible aphasia.

There is a cop (Amy Thompson) chase involving Claire’s husband and son, as they go looking for her. There are mistaken identities and mayhem. It is all completely improbable and beyond absurd but very entertaining.

Paula Faber turns in a tremendous and notable performance as Gertie. Faber grasps and conveys Gertie’s indomitable spirit and her not-so-quiet dignity. It is the finest performance I have seen Faber give.

Actually, there are strong performances from the entire cast. Director Ed Shea has successfully kept the performers on the same level. No performance is broader or more absurd than the other. You might say that each character is equally absurd and each performance entertaining.

Fuddy Meers runs through June 8th at 2nd Story Theatre in Warren, RI .

Tickets are $25.00 each and can be purchased at the 2nd Story Theatre Box Office at 28 Market St., Warren, RI or by calling 401-247-4200.

For more information visit

Photo: Gertie (Paula Faber, left) teaches the puppet a lesson as Millet (Jonathan Jacobs, right) breaks down.

Photo Credit: 2ndStoryTheatre/Richard W. Dionne, Jr.