U.Va. Drama Department Comedy 'Fuddy Meers' Opens March 19

March 12, 2009 — The University of Virginia Department of Drama is set to leave 'em laughing — and thinking — with a no-holds-barred comedy that combines Marx Brothers-style zaniness with observations about the true meaning of family.

"Fuddy Meers," by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire, tells the story of Claire, a young woman whose memory is erased each night when she goes to sleep. She is surrounded by a menagerie of characters, including a brother who kidnaps her with the help of an accomplice who speaks only through a sock puppet, a husband whose intentions and past are equally murky, and a mother who speaks in a form of gibberish only she can truly understand. When they all come together, it is an evening that serves as a passport to a world where the only real certainty is laughter, and no one is above suspicion.

Directed by Richard Warner, "Fuddy Meers" will run at the Helms Theatre from March 19-21 and March 24-28. Tickets for the show are $14 for the general public, $12 for seniors and U.Va. faculty, staff and Alumni Association members, and $8 for students. Full-time U.Va. students can use their Arts$ Dollars to purchase tickets.

To purchase tickets, call 434-924-3376 or visit the Culbreth Theatre weekdays between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

"Between the play itself and Tom Bloom's jack-in-the-box sort of funhouse set, we want our audiences to feel like the experience of watching this play is sort of like life itself," director Richard Warner said. "You could be going through a perfectly happy day and something terrible, or even violent, can happen. Or you could be going through a really terrible day and something plops in your lap that is absolutely deliciously, gorgeously happy."

Warner says Claire's form of amnesia allows the playwright to make unique observations about life while creating a hero everyone can believe in and root for at a time in our history where belief can be in short supply.

"I think what he is saying is there are some memories you want to forget, but we have memories and they are a part of us. We can't expect to figure life out. It's going to offer you some pretty interesting thrills and spills, just like a funhouse does," he said. "I tell my cast that we are doing the audience a service if we make them fall in love with Claire. We all love the innocence of her character and find ourselves wanting to protect it. I think that's true of America right now. We want to protect our innocence. We want to be positive, even while we are looking around at a world where it seems we are surrounded by tsunamis wherever we turn."

All this is not to say that these big issues dominate the play. Good old-fashioned laughs dominate this play.

"There is a really funny kind of burlesque-y thing to it. The Marx Brothers come to mind," Warner said.

The 2008-2009 season will conclude next month with Shakespeare's "The Two Gentlemen of Verona," in which The Bard uses a pair of romantic rivals to explore the complexities of human nature and relationships as only he can. The play comes to Culbreth Theatre from April 16-18 and April 22-25. Tickets are on sale now.

Free parking for both productions is available at the Culbreth Road Parking Garage.

For complete information on the 2008-09 season, visit www.virginia.edu/drama.

— By Jane Ford