By Noah Haidle
Directed by Jeremy Wood
Starring Gwendolyn Boniface, Cory Boughton
Howler Theatre in conjunction with Renegade Theatre
Orlando Shakespeare Festival, Orlando FL
Life is pretty tough when your imaginary friends beat the crap out of you and you’re only four years old. That’s how little Lucy (Boniface) spends her days, she and mom (Candy Heller) live alone, dad is gone and it’s not clearly where he went. Lucy fills her day with love and concern for her imaginary friend Mr. Marmalade (Boughton). Work keeps him hoping 20 hours a day and he can only drop in for a quickie tea party. When Mom goes out on a date, babysitter Emily (Kayla Kelly) invites her boyfriend George (Tiny de Mil) over for sex and Lucy meets his little brother Larry (Miles Berman). Larry’s an older man and more experienced, and at five years he’s tried suicide a few times. Now Lucy is torn – stay with a successful yet abusive imaginary business man, or jump ship for a tender and caring real boy who’s working hard to check out early.
Strip away the icky little girl fantasy element, and Lucy’s story might just mirror her mom’s, except mom seems to be free of any really creepy guys. This theory covers a lot of what’s on stage, it’s sort of weird for a child to invent Mr. Marmalade without having seen someone similar in action. For an imagined role, Mr. Boughton stole the show. He’s an Every Man from high pressure executive to redneck coke head and you want to love him and kill him simultaneously. Mr. Berman is nearly as good as the bouncy suicide child, he’s just a bit angular to pass himself off as five but his eyeball earflap hat takes 20 years off his looks. Ms. Boniface seems just precocious enough to be believable, but the most engaging person on stage was imaginary personal assistant Bradley (BeeJay Auberton), he’s soft and unctuous and as eager to please as a St. Bernard puppy. While the production is sparse, the potato chip orgy was pretty impressive with food flying though impressive oblique lighting. The on stage clutter piles up as does the confusion and hurt in Lucy’s life until Mr. Marmalade come in to clean things up with a leaf blower. He cleaned the floor but polluted everyone life on stage. It’s amazing how much damage one creepy guy can do to people he’s never even met.
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