Spring play ‘Fuddy Meers’ is a ‘darkly comic thrill ride’

February 27, 2018
Mark Tarnacki
Staff Writer
Fuddy Jillian mirror

Photo Caption: Saint Michael’s student and Fuddy Meers lead Jillian Kenny ’18 gazing into a funhouse mirror that “reflects” the multi-layered complexity of her character and this play. (Photo credit Ethan Simmons)

The play Fuddy Meers by David Lindsay-Abaire, now in rehearsal at Saint Michael’s College for four performances March 21- 24 at 7 p.m. in the McCarthy Arts Center, jars and challenges its audience’s sense of reality; but ultimately, this “darkly comic thrill-ride” coaxes viewers toward “positivity and a sense of wonder,” says director Peter Harrigan of the College’s Fine Arts/Theatre faculty.

The play’s title derives from attempts in the script by a supporting character with a stroke to say “funny mirrors.” Meanwhile, the main character, Claire, has Psychogenic Amnesia – that is, although she can retain a lot of information over the course of a day, she wakes up the next morning a blank slate.

“So every day is truly a new day!” says Harrigan about the plot of this year’s Spring Semester Main Stage Production for the College’s Theatre program. “She approaches the world with optimism, but the wacky characters around her try to alter her sense of reality, in the same way that a funhouse or carnival mirror distorts what it reflects.” The play contains mature situations and very strong language.

“This play has something to offend everyone,” says Harrigan, “with references to casual drug use, suicide, spousal abuse, intellectual and physical disabilities, speech defects, and religion – plus a potty-mouthed puppet who uses every bad word imaginable.” So why produce it? What lesson could it offer, aside from adding more noise to an already divisive world?

The answer lies with Claire, the director says. “If she can approach the world with positivity and a sense of wonder – even though she really has no idea what the day will hold – why can’t we?”

Jillian Kenny ’18 will play the role of Claire as her Senior Capstone project in the Theatre major.

Harrigan says before settling on Fuddy Meers and the character of Claire, he and Kenny reviewed several scripts that might serve as a vehicle for her while giving other theater students an intriguing challenge. “Jill [Kenny] has a sun-shiny quality and sense of awe as a person and performer that makes her a perfect choice for this role,” Harrigan says of his lead. “She also has a strength that emerges when Claire challenges the forces and people that try to lead her astray. Jill is also a psychology major, which has given her great insight into Claire’s mind as the character navigates the world as a survivor of trauma.”

Lauren Sousa ‘18 is serving as scenic designer for “Fuddy Meers” as her Senior Capstone project too. “She brings a perceptive and quirky view of the world, and her broad skill-set in technical theater, to this challenging, fast-paced play with multiple settings,” Harrigan said. “Lauren is creating a unique performance space within the McCarthy Theater with the audience seated on stage, which will challenge our usual expectations as theater-goers, mirroring the confusion and disorientation that Claire experiences.”

The intimate setting will have limited audience capacity — hence the need to reserve free seats online. To reserve seats, please visit fuddysmc.eventbrite.com to guarantee your free admission — but only after that site goes “live” starting March 10.

If you use a wheelchair, or need any other special seating consideration, please send an email to pharrigan@smcvt.edu 

Fuddy Meers by David Lindsay-Abaire

Director and Costume Designer – Peter Harrigan
Lighting Designer – John Paul Devlin
Scenic Designer – Lauren Sousa ‘18
Sound Designer – Sage Fagbohun ‘20
Properties Designer – Ivory Blanchette ‘20
Fight Choreographer – Joshua Lacourse ‘18
Stage Manager – Kelly Champlain ‘20
Assistant Stage Managers – Sophie Lizotte ’20, Alaina Shelzi ‘19

Cast List:

Claire – Jillian Kenny ‘18
Richard – Caleb Roman ‘20

Kenny – Katie Ort ‘20
Limping Man – Finn Clougherty ‘18

Gertie – Jenny Burke ‘19

Millet – Pat Cornacchio ‘18

Heidi – Molly Lovell ‘19

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