Big Idea Theatre hits it just right with the warped gigglefest that is Fuddy Meers, a comedy that puts the “fun” in “dysfunctional family.” Poor Claire (the sensible Jessica Futrell) awakens tabula rasa each morning, relying on her husband Richard (Jon Shaffer) and notebook that he’s assembled to figure out her own life. Obviously—even to her—her strange amnesia is traumatic in origin.But one morning, she’s abducted by an oddball who claims to be her brother. He says he’s going to “save” her from Richard. Instead, he introduces Claire to her past, which includes a cast of folks with limited abilities (an anxiety-ridden fellow who uses a sock puppet to help him talk, and Claire’s mother, whose speech is disabled following a stroke, among others).
It’s hilarious in spots, with a variety of puns, jokes and a more than a few scenes that involve chasing people around with shovels, knives and guns, as well as threats of serious violence.
“No one is who they seem to be” would be an understatement, and what at first comes off as a cross between Saturday Night Live and the Coen brothers becomes more clearly an examination of identity: Are we who we think we are? Are we what we’ve done? Are we what others think we are?
Futrell’s Claire is, in spite of her amnesia, a beacon of common sense and compassion. As the Limping Man who abducts Claire, Justin Chapman is by turns hilarious and scary, while his sidekick, the amiable, sock puppet-bound Millet, is brought to a perfect level of weird sadness by Earl Victorine. As Claire’s 16-year-old daughter, the foulmouthed, pot-smoking Kenny, Veronica Castillo offers a pouting, angry teen who really comes through in a pinch.
Under Katie Chapman’s deft direction, Fuddy Meers is both fast and far more stable than any of its characters. Big Idea Theatre’s production has turned a play about a bunch of crazy people into one heckuva good time.