One Song Productions is a youth theatre company, based out of Chapel Hill, that is fully run by high school students. That in and of itself is impressive, but the youthful company has really outdone itself with its recent production of Mr. Marmalade, a quirky and unique play by Noah Haldle, directed by Jones Bell and Rosie Kerwin.
The setting of the play, performed at Common Ground Theatre, is a simple home. To be more specific, it is the home of precocious, four-year-old Lucy (Lena Cohen). As Haidle’s brilliantly-layered and surprisingly dark story unfolds, Lucy “enjoys” tense interactions with her imaginary friends, who include the cocaine-abusing, angry, and erratic Mr. Marmalade (Max Taylor) and his oft-abused assistant, Bradley (Blake Dunkak).
Lucy is clad in bright, perfect costuming, which compliments Cohen’s adept-but-understated and ultimately believable portrayal of young Lucy. Deftly navigating the complexities of Haidle’s script, the actresses manages to fully explore Lucy’s unique way of interacting with and understanding the world in which Lucy lives. Likewise, Taylor is appropriately menacing and villainous in his seething portrayal of Mr. Marmalade. And, when Lucy meets a fellow precocious toddler, one who has attempted suicide, he — Larry — is equally dimensional and fascinating thanks to Harris Middlesworth’s strong performance.
Haidle’s script shines throughout the quick-moving performance, managing to be both self-effacing and non-apologetic as well as bizarrely funny and sadly poignant in its own right. The play is totally fresh and original, a rarity these days, making it perfect for a young cast, especially one that understands it this well.
Even the more minor performances are handled well here, including star-turns by the intriguing Jax Preyer as Lucy’s disaffected baby-sitter and chameleon-like Tony Billman, who juggles three roles. The play will ultimately leave viewers with a lot more questions than it answers, which just might be a good thing, but one thing is for sure — it is a wild and worthwhile ride brilliantly brought to life by One Song Productions.
SECOND OPINION: Triangle Arts and Entertainment’s online version of the March 12th Triangle Review preview by Martha Keravuori and Chuck Galle: http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2015/03/one-song-productions-presentation-of-mr-marmalade-will-probably-shine/.
MR. MARMALADE (One Song Productions, March 12-14 at Common Ground Theatre in Durham, NC).
SHOW: http://www.1songproductions.org/current-season.html and https://www.facebook.com/events/409666745874333/.
PRESENTER: http://www.1songproductions.org/, https://www.facebook.com/pages/One-Song-Productions/136779861220, and https://twitter.com/onesongtheatre.
2014-15 SEASON: http://www.1songproductions.org/current-season.html.
VENUE: http://www.cgtheatre.com/, https://www.facebook.com/cgtheatre, and https://twitter.com/CGTheatre919.
Mr. Marmalade (2004 black comedy): http://www.dramatists.com/cgi-bin/db/single.asp?key=3741 (Dramatists Play Service) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mr._Marmalade (Wikipedia).
Noah Haidle (playwright): https://www.facebook.com/events/409666745874333/ (Goodman Theatre bio).
[RUN HAS CONCLUDED.]
EDITOR’S NOTE: Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/. To read more of her writings, click http://www.susiepotter.com and http://www.myspace.com/susiepotter.