Don’t fuhget about it
Fuddy Meers is an up-crack (that’s crack-up in stroke-talk)
You can’t blame Claire, a middle-aged homemaker, for wanting to start every day as a blank slate. Her husband, Richard, is a bit condescending. Her son, Kenny, is an obnoxious pothead brat. Her mom, Gertie? Well, after her stroke, Gertie has had problems forming sentences properly. In fact, she backs talkwards.
Claire’s rare form of psychogenic amnesia causes her to forget everything as soon as she goes to sleep at night. When she wakes up every morning, Claire, the central character in a comic drama being performed at Truckee Meadows Community College, has to figure out who she is all over again.
Think Memento meets The Simpsons. TMCC’s production of Fuddy Meers is so funny that even during set changes the audience yukked it up over actress Summer Cruz’s animated waddling as Gertie and such props as a head-jiggling Chihuahua toy/dashboard ornament.
The award-winning play, Fuddy Meers, by David Lindsay-Abaire, takes a comic look at a dark subject. The action begins as a confused Claire (Theresa Presley) greets a new day with bright spirits. Her husband (Jeff McKillop) enters with coffee and begins to bring his wife up to speed on her life when teen son Kenny (Jason McCutcheon) walks in, demanding money.
“Who’s that?” Claire asks.
“Your son, Kenny,” Richard says.
“He smells like ribbon candy.”
“He smokes marijuana,” Richard replies.
The day takes an unexpected turn when a lisping man in a ski mask—with an inexplicable aversion to bacon—abducts Claire and takes her to Gertie’s house.
“In come, Cla, in come,” Gertie greets her daughter, who finally gets the lingo. “That means ‘Come in’ in stroke-talk!”
Then things digress into total irony-drenched weirdness. While Richard and Kenny drive around looking for Claire, Richard lectures Kenny about the boy’s drug use yet ends up getting high with the teen before the two—now fantasizing about Fritos—are pulled over by a blonde cop named Heidi (Laurel Sweigart) who they end up disarming and taking hostage as they continue the drive to Gerty’s.
Perfect comic timing makes this scene work. Heidi’s pulling her cop top off ("I’m sweating like a Mexican whore"); Kenny’s turning the gun on himself after struggling to open a bag of Fritos ("Nobody cares!"); Richard’s trying to drive and take the gun away from Kenny; Heidi’s trying to grab for the steering wheel to keep the car on the road and everyone’s yelling when munchie-addled Richard sees something out the car window that pauses the fracas: “Look, there’s a Denny’s!”
At this point, it’s kind of hard to explain how a large escaped convict (Phillip Harriman) with a foul-mouthed sock puppet fits into the picture. Harriman’s hilarious antics puppeteering skills up the insane fun factor. And I’m amazed at Cruz’s ability to not only give a terrific physical performance as granny Gertie—but to pop off lines impeccably in the near-nonsense lingo from which the play’s title is derived.
In the end, the play turns out to be as moving as it is funny, forcing the audience to ponder the place of memory in dysfunctional family life.
“Stability is a fragile figurine," Richard tells Kenny. "One morning, you wake up and it’s gone."