Eclectic Full Contact Theatre Presents Fuddy Meers
Jeremy Hollis’ set design is decidedly confusing-but for the right reasons. The space on the second floor of The Athenaeum Theatre is tiny but seems large due to it being filled to the brim with ideas and concepts for this particular production. At first glance you find yourself wondering if the stage left corner is a shed or basement, wondering where the kitchen actually ends, starring at the slanted faux proscenium, and confused by the gurney downstage right. Second glance you begin to notice the slanted walls and door frames, boxes of holiday stuff shoved into a corner that looks more like a basement every second, the slanted kitchen filled with tilted photos foreshadowing all of the twists and turns that is the David Lindsay-Abaire script known as Fuddy Meers. Hollis’ eye for detail comes across throughout the play as you notice where the dividing line is for each section of the stage to become a different room via floor design and wallpaper but you notice this especially as characters in different rooms begin to use their space and/or half of shared set dressing causing the sometimes subtly drawn dividing lines become obvious.
To Grandmother’s House We Go
From the first moment of the play it’s obvious that Director Katherine Siegel, and her cast, came to play. Claire (Lisa Savegnago) wakes up and is told by her husband, Richard (Joe Cattoggio), that she has a specific kind of amnesia which leads her to forget everything once she goes to sleep. From this scenario hilariousness ensues for almost two hours as she discovers she’s married and has a teenage son, Kenny (Frank Gasparro - who is a quiet but effective scene stealer), and is then kidnapped by the Limping Man (Andrew Pond) who happens to be partially deaf, blind in one eye, and is sporting some serious facial injuries that allude to there being more to this story. The first act is very high energy, but everyone on stage seems up to the task. Between laughs you find yourself amused with the company’s solutions to getting props on and off stage. Hint: it requires a lot of eye hand coordination to “fly” props in and out of the space.
By the time all of the characters make it into the same room it’s clear that this play will not have a nice and neat ending, but will instead end as messily, and as quickly, as it began. By the time we make it to Gert’s house, and realize the way she says “funny mirrors” is where the name of the play comes from, it feels like most of the audience is invested in this weird tale even if it’s not obvious where this is all going to end up. While the script’s second act isn’t as solid as the first act, in this writers’ view, the cast seems to continue to navigate the twists, turns, and backstabbing with a delightful amount of glee. The commitment to these over the top characters, in this highly absurd situation, seems to this writer worth the price of admission alone.
Who Is This Production For?
Who is this production for? It’s definitely a comedy but to be more specific the entire show feels reminiscent of those 70’s crime comedies featuring Goldie Hawn or Gene Wilder that seemed to be on every channel in the 90’s. It’s funny, maintains a slight sense of danger, there are a couple of weirdly bizarre moments, and it is exceptionally high energy throughout.
The production is also suitable for families with teens who might want to get their kids to see a bit more theatre this summer.
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.
Note: An excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago
Runs through July 8th
Thursday at 8:00 PM
Friday at 8:00 PM
Saturday at 8:00 PM
Sunday at 2:00 PM
2936 N Southport Ave
Go to Eclectic Full Contact Theatre’s Website
Photos courtesy of Eclectic Full Contact Theater
About the Author
Sharai Bohannon is a playwright, and an avid theatre practitioner, who is very excited to write about most things but especially Chicago Theatre. She has a background in journalism and technical theatre and is excited that those degrees will be put to use in a way that gives her an excuse to leave her couch and brave this “outside” that people keep telling her about. When not on her couch watching TV, she can be found working one of her multiple jobs and/or hunting down a happy hour near you. Read some of Sharai Bohannon’s New Works on New Play Exchange.
Read more Picture this Post reviews by Sharai Bohannon here.