Could there be a better time to stage Noah Haidle’s wickedly funny and highly disturbing Mr. Marmalade in Halifax? After all, the entire city has been engaged in a months-long, much-needed discussion about what we can do about violence against women.
So how, you may be wondering, does a one-act play about a four-year-old named Lucy and her imaginary friend named Mr. Marmalade tie in with this discussion?
Lucy (played with delightful energy by Gillian Clark) is not what you immediately think of when you say “pre-schooler”. She’s obviously been raised in front of the television (I use the term “raised” loosely. Her mother is self-centred and neglectful) and is informed beyond her years.
Her imaginary friend (played by Eric Cunningham, who nails Mr. Marmalade’s smarmy charm and terrifying mood changes) is a classic abuser, sweet-talking and charming when it suits him, veering into terrifying anger when he’s crossed. Lucy embraces him both as a father-figure and a husband-figure.
Lucy’s world is also peopled with various odd characters including Mr. Marmalade’s efficient and kind assistant Bradley (the very winning Patrick Blenkarn), a randy teenage babysitter (Anna Dubinski who does a great job assuming multiple roles) and food-flinging cactus-man (the versatile Matt Buckman).
Lucy finds a new (real) friend in Larry (played with spot-on gravity by Griffin McInnes), a suicidal five-year-old whose companionship offers the hope of a better future for both children.
While this all may sound very grim, it is surprisingly funny and highly entertaining. Plus, it raises important questions about how society influences children and their futures.
In the discussion of violence against women, we need to be talking about root causes, and as this play so cleverly points out, the patterns of abuse begin in childhood. A good place for the discussion to begin…
A Keep Good (Theatre) Company Production
Directed by Laura Vingoe-Cram
Friday July 26th (8 PM)
Saturday July 27th (8 PM)
6287 Payzant Avenue