Life is an action-packed ride when you wake up each morning with no memory of what happened the day before. Pity poor Claire. She is a sweet perky woman of middle years finding the world a very strange place as she wakes to the harsh tones of an alarm clock, a husband she does not recognize and a sullen son. And that is merely the beginning of the lively "Fuddy Meers" now at 1st Stage.
With the agreeable MiRan Powell as Claire, "Fuddy Meers" is an often silly, sometimes bizarre, engaging evening of entertainment. If you find outrageousness covering various sobering misdeeds appealing rather than unsettling, this production can engross.
Under the direction of Lee Mikeska-Gardner, "Fuddy Meers" is an animated dark comedy with little time for self-absorption or contemplation of the increasingly uncovered shadows, until the final lovingly constructed tender scene. Produced Off-Broadway in 1999, this was the first major work written by David Lindsay-Abaire. He may be better known for his Tony Award nominated "Rabbit Hole," a recently released motion picture.
The mood is quickly set for the audience. A terrific set design, a flutter with large happy colored large puzzle pieces by Mark Krikstan along with a myriad of props by Kay Rzasa and focused lighting by Marianne Meadows, envelops the eyes. Jaunty pre-show music of summertime calliopes glides the audience members into comfortable seats with a quizzical look and immediate interest. Then the play unfolds. Powell awakes; befuddled as to her place in life. She is always innocently questioning, wanting to trust others while confronting her amnesia and the oddities of her twisted life, asking "please give me the truth."
There is a chipper group that brings fizz and pop to the production as they comically overplay various serious ailments; both physical and mental. Nothing is left untouched or unscathed; domestic violence, the distressing aftermath of a stroke, incarceration for an act not perpetrated by the accused along with the meanderings of teen stoner. Oh, there is also an alter-ego hand puppet with a penchant for extremely naughty words. Kudos go to the breathless antics of Jane Margulies Kalbfeld who cannot make herself understood and from whose lips comes the title of the show, Doug Mattingly and his hand puppet work, and Jacob Yeh who inhabits the role of the teen-aged son who truly does love his mother.