The cast of Fuddy Meers. Watch out for the puppet.
Photo by Justin D. Gallo Photography
Fuddy Meers has been a long time coming for the Loudmouth Collective.
"Because the mission of Loudmouth is really trying to pair actors with scripts, we announce seasons with actors attached. These actors have all been cast for a year and a half. That's a long, long time," says director Natalie Novacek. "It's a true ensemble show. In reading it, I couldn't help thinking of these folks around the table [at rehearsal]. The show truly would not be happening without these actors."
The play itself is the debut by David Lindsay-Abaire, who went on to write Rabbit Hole and Good People. The action here is madcap like a farce, except that as you move through the story you realize that what's being told is darker than the absurd first layer.
It centers on Claire, an amnesiac who wakes up every morning with a blank mental slate. Instead of tattooing her body like Guy Pearce in Memento, Claire fumbles her way through the day. It's a day that includes a limping, lisping half-deaf man; her mother, who can only speak in gibberish; and a thug who deals with his various traumas via a foul-mouthed hand puppet.
"This has been one of the most challenging roles," says Noe Tallen, who plays Claire. "Everything has to be brand new for Claire. There is not a preconceived notion of anything, and these people are a whirling dervish around me. Making it believably new is quite a tough challenge."
The cast includes Leif Jurgensen, Spencer Harrison Levin, Paul Rutledge, Matt Sciple, Noe Tallen, Karen Wiese-Thompson, and Katie Willer.
Sciple plays the Limping Man. "Everybody in the play has something that they are hiding. We misdirect the audience as long as you can about these things. The cool thing about this script is that everybody feels like they are doing the right thing. I'm not playing the Limping Man for who he is, but who he wants to be."
Wiese-Thompson plays the stroke-struck mother, Gertie. "I was really worried about memorizing the script. I didn't know what she was saying. I stopped thinking about what the words were on paper and only what she is saying. It surprisingly dropped right in. Gertie is honest. She won't deceive, but nobody understands her."
So there's lost memories, gibberish-speak, and a partially deaf man with a limp. Oh, and the thug with a hand puppet. That's up to Rutledge. "It's a challenge to have them quarrel with one voice. It's challenging having an argument with your hand. It's not an experience I've had before."
The play is raucous, and the actors are having a blast with the chance to cut loose. "We get into this polite theater. You know the point of the show and you are doing your cultural duty to see this. In this play, you can't do that. Audiences prefer to be off-balance, but they don't know that," Sciple says.
"This cast is nuts I'm surprised we've gotten as far we have," Tallen says.
IF YOU GO:
Friday through January 19
1517 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis
$15, $10 with Minnesota Fringe Festival button
For tickets and more information, call 612.643.1231 or visit online.