Yes, yes, I know: this is a book blog. But every so often, books and theater overlap. Namely when a script becomes a stage production.
Now, I read a lot of scripts for my theatrical work and a lot of them I don’t feel comfortable reviewing for a lot of reasons (listed over at my book review for Fuddy Meers). But I had nothing to do with this stage production and I was able to get my hands on a script. So, I’ve decided to do a review of the production I saw, quite as if I’m reviewing the movie form of a book.
This probably won’t happen too often as usually I only get to read a script if I’m also working on a show, and I don’t feel it’s fair to post a review of that. But, again, I didn’t have anything to do with this production, so no guilt.
For those of you in southeast Michigan, you too can see this awesome production at Monster Box Theatre in Waterford (click the link for tickets and info).
Production review under the cut.
Fuddy Meers is a comedy. Let’s just get that out of the way right here and now. It’s not just billed as one – it is one. I laughed out loud. Loudly and often. If you want my opinion of the script, you can find it here. All I’ll say about it at this review is that it’s a good, solid script with a lot of room for creativity on the part of a production team (director, actors, designers). And this team went for it.
The actors were all amazing. They delivered solid performances; all of them had a good handle on when, why, and how their lines were funny; and I didn’t note a single inconsistency in character. On top of that, if there were any line flubs, I didn’t notice a single one. (And it’s live theater, so, let’s be real: someone somewhere flubbed a line. But it wasn’t noticeable at all, ever, which is what really matters.) Special shout out to Betty DeWulf’s Gertie, who absolutely stole the show as far as I’m concerned.
Director Kenneth Franzel and Artistic Director Paul Stark clearly approached the script with a plan and they stuck to it. I’m not sure how many of my readers are familiar with live theater, but let me tell you that it’s obvious when someone comes in with a mish-mash of ideas and fails to make them coherent – actually, I’m sure we can all think of at least one movie where that’s been the case (no naming names even in the comments, please). But Franzel and Stark knew what they wanted and everything lined up. From the costumes to the set, the way the lines were handled, the props – everything just fit together. That’s not easy, especially not when you’ve got a chaotic script trying to pull everything in all directions, but Franzel kept it all together.
Speaking as someone who normally consumes sci-fi/fantasy novels in my spare time, I wish that there had been a little bit more emphasis on the horrific aspects inherent in the script. Some attention is paid to them, of course – the script doesn’t allow you to deny them, and Franzel and the actors effected by those aspects acknowledged them. But I wish there had been more to it, especially at the beginning and at the very end. Instead, we open with pure comedy that I couldn’t fully get into for a little bit and then the play ends on what is certainly a heart-warming note in this production – but it was overshadowed, for me, by the emotions the final reveal invoked in me.
Fuddy Meers is a production that I expect will stick with me for a long time for multiple reasons. Having read the script (after seeing the show), I can now see just how much the cast and crew had to work with and I am even more impressed with their final product. I highly urge anyone near Waterford, MI to go and see it if you’ve got the time.
ETA: Full disclosure: i sometimes work at this theater and am friends/friendly with a lot of the people involved but this in no way affected my review.