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Published Saturday
April 6, 2002

Review: Performers give zing to funny 'Fuddy'

BY JIM DELMONT

 

WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER

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Blue Barn Theatre

Led by brilliant performances from Aaron Zavitz and Jill Anderson, the Blue Barn Theatre is offering the rip-roaring farcical comedy "Fuddy Meers" by David Lindsay-Abaire.

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The cast of the Blue Barn Theatre's "Fuddy Meers" includes, from left, Daniel Dorner, Michelle Zacharia and Steve Balsarini.

To a degree, "Fuddy" is an absurdist piece; the humor comes mainly from odd situations, weird characterizations and moment-to-moment madness.

The plot makes little sense except to showcase the characters: a woman who wakes each day with no memory of her past; her devoted husband, a former drug addict; their dysfunctional, pot-smoking son; a kidnapper whose identity is unknown; a policewoman who is not what she seems; a puppeteer who shares personalities with his hand puppet; a woman whose speech has been jumbled by a stroke.

With its many references to drugs and their effects, this is very much a modern play, yet it also resembles classic Broadway farces, especially those of Philip Barry, which always had serious undertones.

Fuddy Meers
What: Comedy thriller by David Lindsay-Abaire.

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, through April 28.

Where: Blue Barn Theatre, 614 S. 11th St.

Tickets: $15 general admission, $12 students and senior citizens.

Information: 345-1576.

Imagine a Barry play such as "Holiday" or "The Philadelphia Story" -typically zany but smart and sophisticated.

Then take the play to a prison for murderers and ask the convicts to reshape it more to their liking. They would likely add, in the midst of the wordplay, a stabbing, a shooting, hitting people with shovels, a fair amount of cursing, lots of drug references, physical combat and a generally mean and cruel tone: Philip Barry filtered through a prison culture. Then you'd have it: "Fuddy Meers."

The title, by the way, is the pronunciation of "funny mirrors" by the woman afflicted by "stroke talk," as one of the characters puts it.

Performances and direction by Kevin Lawler are superb and catch the rhythms and timing of the often explosively funny jokes.

Aaron McNally Zavitz is truly impressive as a kind of mellowing psychopath who looks like Woody Harrelson, employs a Valley Boy accent and keeps switching mental gears.

Anderson, one of the area's best, plays the befuddled woman who wakes each day with no memory. This character, Claire, is the only pre-'70s character, as if Ozzie Nelson woke up in a David Lynch movie.

Lawler is the mad puppeteer, Michelle Zacharia the rough policewoman, Barb Ross the speech-afflicted woman, Daniel Dorner the son and Steve Balsarini the doting, daffy husband.

"Fuddy Meers" offers wit unsoftened by sentiment in a rough-hewn, sometimes brutish and very funny comedy.