Every morning, Claire wakes up in a strange man’s bed.
The man brings her a cup of coffee and lays out her clothes. The man reassures her that she would rather have coffee than juice, and the semi-hideous red dress on the bed is her favorite item of clothing.
The man is her husband, but Claire doesn’t know his name or anything about him.
This pseudo-comedy follows a day in the life of Claire, a middle-aged woman who has dissociative amnesia, a disorder caused by extreme trauma or stress. Each night, Claire loses the memories of her previous day. Her life before each new sunrise is a blank slate.
But on this morning, Claire (Jasmine Thomas) is stolen away by another strange, limping man claiming to be her brother (Max Miller), and discovers more than she’s ever read in the memory book her husband made for her. The suspense of Claire’s past -- and her future -- is enough to keep the action steady for the play’s duration.
The cast of Fuddy Meers had audience members in hysterics on opening night, delivering effortless comedic timing and spotless speech impediments (there’s a lisp and a “stroke-talk”). Director Craig MacDonald had a mere six weeks to hone his cast into a comedy-making machine, and they only have two weekends of perfromance to make an impression.
Strong performances were given by each cast member, notably Daniel Burns, who played Claire’s nerdy-yet-former-drug-addict-and-conman husband. His mustache alone warranted applause (Movember, represent).
The original music by six local composers was as quirky as the script: at times folksy, then turning eery without warning. Danielle Hodgins's brilliant set design took its inspiration from “funny mirrors,” where the show draws its title. Bright colors, misshapen furniture, a checkered floor (Think Alice and Wonderland meets Seussical the Musical and that’ll do it).
As the “day” draws to a close, the play ends on a serious note. Claire’s 17-year-old son, Kenny (Shawn G. Nabors) begs to have just a few more minutes with his mom before she goes to sleep. Her husband asks what his name is and who he is, swelling with pride as Claire remembered.
By using comedy to lighten the severity of dissociative amnesia, Lindsay-Abaire gives a glimpse into a little-known disorder that affects a surprisingly large number of young adults. Claire lays her tired head down to sleep, and the lights dim. It’s unclear whether or not she will wake up and remember her harrowing day. Maybe she’ll never get better, like so many who have this disease.
Or maybe her past will always seem distorted, much like an image in a “fuddy meer.”
Photo by Michael Davis.
Nov 4 - 13
Storch Theatre at Syracuse Stage
Tickets $18 adults, $16 students/seniors.
$8 student rush tickets available one hour before shows.
http://vpa.syr.edu/drama | Box office: 315-443-3275