by Jes Simmons
Waterworks Players’ performance of Fuddy Meers by David Lindsay-Abaire is an evening of surprises, shocks, poignancy, and laughter.
Lindsay-Abaire wrote Fuddy Meers at the Juilliard School’s Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program, and it was first performed in 1999. In 2016, Lindsay-Abaire returned to Juilliard as co-director of the same program, having received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2007 for Rabbit Hole, also nominated for a Tony Award.
In Fuddy Meers, Claire wakes with no memories each morning and struggles to make sense of a day where she does not know herself or anyone else, while everyone around her is being someone other than who they are. During the play, the characters begin to realize how they have hurt themselves and damaged others.
Director Lacy Klinger, who brings stellar performances from an exceptionally talented cast, handles Fuddy Meers superbly. Klinger, an assistant professor of acting at Longwood University, is also the sound designer whose shifting carousel music evokes the confusion and anguish in Claire’s mind, punctuated with barking and the sizzle of frying bacon — each a clue to Claire’s past.
In her Waterworks debut, Brittany Hines is charming and disarming as Claire, a woman with a “psychogenic form of amnesia.” Her exuberance enriches a performance of optimism and innocence with flashes of startling insight as memories erupt. Hines holds a BFA in theater performance from Longwood University.
Pam Wright as Gertie owns the character of Claire’s mother, a stroke victim with aphasia and its mismatched connection with words (think spoonerisms on steroids). She tries to communicate, but Gertie’s words often bewilder listeners who don’t immediately realize that “fuddy meers” means “funny mirrors.” Wright sensitively portrays a woman who is frustrated and caring and, at times, quite funny.
Andrew Stump brings a steady, nuanced performance to Claire’s husband, Richard, as he carefully oversees Claire’s waking moments, rescues her from a kidnapping and attempts to make up for his past behavior.
Chris Klinger as “the Limping Man” is masterful as he ably controls a fragile, cheerful façade, which reveals underlying danger and anger. Of special note is Klinger’s choreography of the fight scene, a three-ring circus of mayhem sending the audience into intermission.
Jordan Whiley as Millet is a seasoned Waterworks Player. In Fuddy Meers, his use of a hand puppet named Binky and its cartoonish voice prove delightful. He is engaging in his struggle to keep secrets as Millet and reveal the truth as Binky.
Stu Nicholson is Kenny, Claire’s dyslexic teenage son, trying to handle pain and suffering with drugs and coarse language. Stu’s performance ably evolves from anger and rebellion to pleas for the caring family he once had. Stu is a senior at Longwood majoring in Theater Performance and Creative Writing.
Sherri Davenport portrays Heidi with a wonderfully dag-nab southern accent. Her comedic timing is spot on, especially in a panic attack brought on by claustrophobia. Sherri is a consistent delight in Waterworks productions.
Fuddy Meers continues many seasons of truly superb acting and directing at Waterworks Players, one of Farmville’s crown jewels. Showtime is 8:00 on August 5, 6, 12, and 13. The wry poster designed by Richard Pollard notes: “Mature audiences only due to language and content.” Tickets are $12.00 at www.waterworksplayers.org.