Every character in David Lindsay-Abaire's comedy Fuddy Meers is damaged in some way. Our protagonist, Claire, is an amnesiac whose world is crumbling all around her, day by day, in a sort of Groundhog Day twist. Her mother Gertie, who's had a stroke, suffers from aphasia—difficulty with forming words and getting them out properly.
In fact, the play’s title comes from Gertie’s pronunciation of the words “funny mirrors.”
There’s certainly a funhouse mirror effect in the new Bay Street Theatre production of Fuddy Meers, which establishes a world where nothing is as it seems, top is bottom and black is white. And white is, well, off-white.
Gabe Reynolds plays a mysterious stranger called Limping Man, who kidnaps Claire and essentially sets the ball rolling for the madcap mayhem that follows.
He’s also known as Lisping Man.
“I’ve never played a character like this,” says Reynolds, an on-air DJ with Rock 106.1 (his nom de mic is Kotter). “Never done a show like this. So it’s interesting, it’s a challenge. Both from the physical standpoint, with the limp and the lisp ... it’s an interesting character; it’s not like me in any way, shape or form.”
Without giving away any plot spoilers, Limping Man has a serious stake in Claire’s affairs. “I think in his own weird way he’s looking for redemption,” Reynolds says. “He is struggling with who he was and who he wants to be. And he can’t quite get there.”
Mystery surrounds the other characters, too: There’s Millet, who travels with a potty-mouthed puppet; Richard and Kenny, Claire’s dysfunctional husband and son, and gun-toting Heidi.
Along with limping/lisping Reynolds, the Bay Street cast includes Katie Cochran, Lynita Spivey, Tim Reynolds, Jason Aarons, Bonnie Terrell and Travis Coles.
Coles is one of the founders of Bay Street Theatre, along with Valerie Lavelle, the director of Fuddy Meers.
Lindsay-Abair’s comedy, an off-Broadway hit, was suggested at the group’s open meeting last fall, during which potential new productions are discussed.
“It’s one of those shows that’s probably not very well known as a big mainstream show,” Lavelle says, “but it’s very well known in the theater community because of all the different characters that there are. It’s just a great piece to get your acting chops on.”
According to Reynolds, “The characters are written in a way that you know what their objectives are, but you can also put your own spin on it.”
Lavelle says Fuddy Meers was written with creative augmentation in mind. “The characters are complex, but they’re also so basic that we had to kind of flesh them out and make them more human and complex,” she explains. “Just with our acting. The script gives you a lot of room to add more to it.
“It’s not a very difficult show to understand. It’s just that there’s a lot that’s happening to Claire ... and around Claire.”
Bay Street Theatre: Fuddy Meers
Where: Club One, 1 Jefferson St.
When: At 7:30 p.m. April 11-13 and 18-20
Tickets: $15 at clubone-online.com
Sunday shows are all-ages