Thursday, July 10, 2014

Wanna Give It a Go? Imaginary Mr. Marmalade!

By Guest Blogger, Kevin Regan
Kevin Regan is the Director of Multimedia and a player with CSz Philadelphia as well as a sometime performer, producer and other "p-words" with Wilmington's City Theater Company.

Emma Orr and Thomas Russell
You have a mere three chances to see Mr. Marmalade by Noah Haidle, at Chapel Street Players in Newark this weekend. That means you should keep that babysitter you have scheduled, but cancel whatever you planned for the evening. Then you can spend the night laughing hysterically at Lucy and her imaginary friend, Mr. Marmalade, while wondering what the hell your kids are doing.

Mr. Marmalade is an extremely dark comedy about children, for adults. Directed by CSP veteran J.W. Pukatsch, it explores a theme that has been tackled by everyone from Stephen Sondheim (Children Will Listen) to everyone's favorite 1980s Anti-Drug PSA ("I learned it from watching you...") — that our children are internalizing everything we say and do.

Lucy, who is played to perfection by Emma Orr, is a lonely four-year-old with a healthy imagination. As long as your definition of "healthy" includes sex, drugs and the occasional dildo thrown in for good measure. She creates a world based on all of the unseen men her mother brings into their home. This amalgamation is transformed into her friend, Mr. Marmalade, played with equal parts charm and sleaze by Thomas Russell, to create the bigger-than-life character. Think The Cat in the Hat, if Dr. Seuss was a sadist and you'll begin to get the picture. His addictions, bombastic temper and self-centeredness do little to alleviate the little girl's loneliness.

The whole show takes place in the family living room over the course of one night, while Lucy's mother Sookie (Tricia LaRock) is on a date. Lucy interacts with both real and imagined characters, including the disinterested babysitter (Rachel Diamond), Mr. Marmalade's hilarious and often injured assistant Bradley (Jimmy Van Buren) and a very real five-year-old named Larry (Andrew Dluhy), who might have more baggage than Marmalade himself. Lucy & Larry will have to work to find a way to exist in the harsh reality of our adult world.

Pukatsch does an amazing job utilizing the simple family room set, representing the four-year-old's reality, in both fantastic and pragmatic scenes. Especially poignant is the dance scene with Lucy and Mr. Marmalade while Bradley croons a la a 1940s nightclub. Orr, as well as Dluhy, is exceptional as an adult actor playing a child without ever becoming "cartoonish." And Russell's morally lacking Marmalade will make you wonder if you picked the right person to babysit your kids tonight.

Unfortunately, a lot of theaters go dark in the summer months for fear that the audiences cannot be lured away from vacation. I applauded Chapel Street Theater for putting up this show, even if it is only for a short three-day run. I implore you to leave the beach behind for a day and see this adult world through the eyes of a four-year-old this weekend. Mr. Marmalade is playing Thursday (7/10), Friday (7/11) and Saturday (7/12). All showtimes are 8:00pm.

Now STOP READING THIS and buy your tickets at

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