By Thom deMartino/Orange County Tribune
Can you tell who you are — or “who” others tell you you are — if you don’t find out for yourself? In Westminster Community Playhouse’s “Fuddy Meers,” the audience is invited on this distorted, Quixotic journey of self-discovery.
Directed by Priscilla Gonzales-Suciu, “Fuddy Meers” eases the audience into consciousness along side an affable (if perplexed) woman (Maria O’Conner) as she wakes into a life she has no memory of – including her seemingly secretive and troubled family.
Her resentful son Kenny (a strong, seething performance by Alex Hawley) and her extremely eager yet cagey husband Richard (Greg Stokes, tiptoeing a fine line between reserved and manic, as the gatekeeper to the amnesiac mother’s memory) are only helpful to a point for the woman who finally learns her name is Claire … and that every morning she wakes with no memory of the previous day, and only echoes of the life she knew before.
Her already surreal adjustment to her unfamiliar surroundings is abruptly intruded upon by the strange, scarred and limping man (an intense, multi-layered Wayne Mayberry) saying his name is Zach and feverishly explaining there is no time, he must get her out, before her husband does away with her.
The pair travel to Claire – and apparently Zach’s – mother Gertie’s house but have hurdles communicating due to the jumbled words Claire’s “Mama” speaks in, as a result of a recent stroke (Julianne Bancroft, still managing a witty and snappy delivery with the tongue-twisting dialogue.)
Add in Millet, the angsty and friendly escapee, along with his foul-mouthed puppet (a nuanced, fun performance by Jorge Del Toro) and a hot pursuit by Claire’s family and the quirky, persistent cop Heidi (a playful, moody, slightly menacing Alexandra Moniz) and you have an unpredictable mix of fun and revelation as Claire tries to come to come to terms with her past… even if tomorrow she never knows.
The 2022 season is still in swing for a bit longer at the Westminster Community Playhouse, with this unusual, edgy and ultimately fulfilling offering from a mercurial acting troupe that is always seeking to elevate their performances and update their historic venue, as they invite audiences back after the long and lingering hiatus of the last few seasons.
The expansive, cloudy sky backdrop of Claire’s world add to its dreamlike quality, mood heightened by lighting and by the apt and melodious underlying music. O’Conner’s steadfast, upbeat performance of a character who could easily be mired in confusion and self-doubt is the tent post of the show, the hub around which the myriad characters’ fates revolve: and despite the suspect stories of both the men who claim to know her best, is determined to find her own truth and own her path.
A challenging guessing game of truths, half-truths and the lies we tell ourselves, “Fuddy Meers” is a fun, dark look at identity and who we choose to be. Playing for a limited time through April 10 at Westminster Community Playhouse in Westminster, it’s an intriguing enigma to catch while you can.
“Fuddy Meers.” Maria O’Connor, Greg Stokes and Alex Hawley star in this unusual tale of a woman lost, building her world piece by piec e… and whether or not it will still be hers tomorrow. Playing through April 10 at the Westminster Community Playhouse, 7272 Maple St, Westminster, CA 92683. Ticketing information available online at http://www.wcpstage.com, or call (714)-893-8626.
Categories: Arts & Leisure