Written by Noah Haidle
Directed by Aubree Bowen
So I was one of the few people I know who didn’t have some kind of imaginary friend as a child. I played by myself, I had adventures, but no giant bunny, no “Fred,” no “Hobbes.”
Mr Marmalade is the imaginary friend of four-year-old Lucy, whose single mother is neglectful, bordering on abusive. A precocious girl, she has invented in Mr Marmalade a friend who fits the mold of “with friends like these, who needs enemies…” He’s charming like all nasty guys can be. He has a wonderful assistant whose only purpose is to facilitate his visits with Lucy and mop up her disappointment when he’s too busy to see her. Mr Marmalade is the Gordon Gekko of imaginary friends, complete with a briefcase full of porn and a cocaine habit.
It seems a little odd at first, but after a while, it all begins to make perfect, intensely logical and terrifying sense.
A four-year-old girl who spends so much time alone, a witness to so many warped relationships that she absorbs them all, and what is regurgitated is a distillation of disaster, a sad indictment of the selfish and the careless. Her babysitter is always late and when she is there she’s waiting for her dodgy boyfriend so they can have sex upstairs. Her mother seems to only be home long enough to get ready to go out, bringing men back with her who then sneak out in the morning, passing Lucy on the way.
It’s a grim picture, but somehow Lucy makes the best of it. Whhen she meets a new friend, Larry, she is of course, sweetly unprepared for something ‘real.’ Larry has his own demons, the youngest ever suicidal boy in New Jersey and a couple of oversized, anarchic taking plants for his imaginary friends. Together they play doctor and eat candy pinched from the local 7eleven and fall in love…at four and five. Although amongst all this adult angst it seems more real than anything else.
It’s quite a story. It's quite a play and this production is quite, quite brilliant. Every actor is somehow able to make these insane characters perfectly normal, at least in the world of Lucy’s imagination. This is a bit of a trip, but it’s easy to follow how this little girl's experiences birth such a rotten, twisted friend.
Mr Marmalade is a fascinating, hilarious and totally chilling illustration of how that which goes unnoticed and seems unimportant can impact children in such profound and disturbing ways that it should be the only thing we talk about… like guns in schools, lead in water and deported veterans.
Genius performances and brilliant direction result in a play that I cannot recommend enough…GO AND SEE IT!!!
Kaitlin Sullivan as Lucy
Johnny Wactor as Mr. Marmalade
Matt Gardner as Larry
Tyler Seiple as Bradley
Alyssa Rodriguez as Sookie/Emily/Sunflower
Charlie Farrell as George/Man/Cactus
Directed by Aubree Bowen
Produced by Pilar Holland
Stage managed by Gary Thomas
Set design by Julisa Wright
Lighting design by Alison Brummer