Fuddy Meers by David Lindsay-Abaire is set during the course of one long day. Two years ago Claire was diagnosed with psychogenic amnesia, a condition that affects short-term memory. Every night when Claire goes to sleep, her memory erases. When she wakes up, she has no idea who she is, who her family is, what she likes and does not like, or the events that led to her condition. One day is all she has to learn everything she can about herself before she goes to sleep and wakes up "wiped clean" again.
On this particular day, Claire wakes up to her husband, Richard, bringing her coffee and a book with information about who she is, who he is, and various other facts she may need throughout the day. Her son, Kenny, drops in to say good morning and go through her purse for some money that he says is for the bus, but is most likely to pay for his next round of pot.
Once the two of them leave, a masked man with a lisp and a limp crawls out from under Claire's bed announcing that he is her brother, Zack, and he is there to save her from Richard. He gets her in the car and throws away her book of information and drives her to her mother's house. Claire's mother, Gertie, has suffered a stroke and though her mind functions perfectly, her speech is garbled and mostly unintelligible.
The title of the play comes from Gertie's garbled speech; "Fuddy Meers" is what comes out of her mouth when she tries to say "Funny Mirrors." Once at her mother's house, Claire meets Millet and his puppet Hinky Binky. The limping man and Millet recently escaped from jail together and are on their way to Canada.
Richard soon discovers Claire's absence and drags a stoned Kenny and a kidnapped policewoman to Gertie's house. From there, the action devolves into a chaotic hostage situation where details of Claire's past slowly emerge until she finally gets the whole story of how, when, and why she's lost her memory.
Setting: Claire's bedroom, a car, Gertie's house
Time: The Present
Cast Size: This play can accommodate 7 actors.
Male Characters: 4
Female Characters: 3
Characters that could be played by either males or females: 0
Claire is in her 40s, and for a woman who has lost her memory, she is fairly happy and at peace. She is upset to see an old picture of herself in which she looks like a "pathetically sad-looking woman" and recognizes that she is much happier now.
Richard is devoted to Claire. His past is shady and littered with minor crimes, drugs, and deceit but he's since turned his life around. He is doing his best for Claire and Kenny although he tends to become nervous and erratic when placed in stressful situations.
Kenny was fifteen when Claire lost her memory. He is seventeen now and is using marijuana to self medicate. He is rarely clear-headed enough these days to connect and communicate with the world.
The Limping Man announces that he is Claire's brother, but his identity remains in question for much of the play. In addition to a limp, he also has a severe lisp, is half blind, and one of his ears has been badly burned resulting in hearing loss. He has a short temper and refuses to answer Claire's questions.
Gertie is Claire's mother. She is in her 60s and suffered a stroke, which resulted in an inability to speak clearly. Her mind and memory are perfect and she loves Claire with all her heart. She does her best to protect her daughter and help Claire piece together her past in time to avoid repeating it.
Millet escaped from jail with the Limping Man and a puppet named Hinky Binky. Hinky Binky says all the things Millet cannot and often gets Millet into trouble. While there were plenty of things in Millet's past to land him jail, he was wrongfully accused of the crime that eventually imprisoned him.
Heidi is introduced as a policewoman who pulls Kenny and Richard over for speeding and possession of marijuana. She is later revealed to be the lunch lady where Millet and the Limping Man were imprisoned and she is in love with the Limping Man. She is strong-willed, possessive, and mildly claustrophobic.
The production notes for Fuddy Meers focus on set suggestions. The set designer has a chance to utilize creativity and imagination in rendering the various settings. Playwright David Lindsay-Abaire explains that since the play is experienced through Claire's eyes, "the world that the designers create should be a world of incomplete pictures and distorted realities." He suggests that as the play goes along and Claire's memory returns, the set should transform from representational to realistic. He says, "… for example, each time we revisit Gertie's kitchen, maybe there's a new piece of furniture, or there's a wall where there wasn't one before." For more of David Lindsay-Abaire's notes see the script available from Dramatists Play Service, Inc.
Besides the make-up the Limping Man needs for his burned and disfigured ear, the costume needs for this show are minimal. Each character needs only one costume as the time span of Fuddy Meers is only one day. Lighting and sound cues are also minimal. A full properties list is included in the script.
There is also a translation of all of Gertie's stroke talk at the back of the script. This is helpful for the actor cast as Gertie to understand exactly what she is trying to say and to find the best emphasis and emotions to attach to her garbled dialogue. The director may use his or her own discretion in letting the rest of the cast read the translations as their confused reactions to her lines may be more genuine if they truly do not understand her.
Content Issues: Violence (stabbing, punching, shooting guns), language, domestic abuse
Production rights for Fuddy Meers are held by Dramatists Play Service, Inc.