Fuddy Meers is a rollercoaster ride. Directed by Derek Sitter, professional actor and founder of both the Actor's Realm and Volcanic Theatre, this David Lindsay-Abaire piece is one of the darkest plays to hit a Bend stage in recent memory. Told from the funhouse perspective of amnesiac Claire, played with a brilliantly eerie, almost childlike charm by Jeanne Sitter, Fuddy Meers is the journey of one woman's descent into the kind of madness that, in the end, seems almost preferable to the so-called sanity of an ordinary life.
Every member of the cast delivered the kind of performance the audience felt in their guts, a visceral response I have yet to sense from other local productions. Under Sitter's direction, this cast transcended the expected limitations of community theater. Each shined in their own way, from Michael Coffman as Claire's bumblingly earnest husband, Richard, to Don Delach as the Limping Man, a character reminiscent of a Flannery O'Conner villain who manages to unapologetically lure the audience into his deception.
Gregory Lucas steals the show as Millet, a disturbed man with a mysterious past who carries around Binky, a hand puppet with the mouth of a sailor and the charisma of Wayne Newton during his early Vegas days.
Playwright Lindsay-Abaire, best known for writing Rabbit Hole, leaves the play open for interpretation. The darkness only gets so dark before this cast coaxes laughter with a carefully placed double entendre, a set designed to resemble a circus tent back in Disney's impenitent pink elephant days, and the sort of resident gloominess that one must laugh at in order not to cry.
Fuddy Meers is a play that people who don't usually go to local theater will enjoy. I encourage as many readers as possible to support this weird and wily production. This is not a safe play, or even an easy play to watch. This is the kind of production that is meant to overwhelm you. It overwhelmed me. When Millet, at the end of act one, performs a frantic CPR on his wounded hand puppet, I felt terrified, but could not look away. Go to this play and see what happens next. It just might astonish you.