Updated Wed, Oct 3, 2012 7:49 am
A child’s imaginary friend is one of the most innocent things in the world, usually seen as a creative outlet by parents.
Starting Oct. 3, the Ohio University School of Theater will turn that childhood staple on its head with its production of Noah Haidle’s Mr. Marmalade.
The dark comedy chronicles the life of four year-old Lucy (played by Emma Safford) and her imaginary friend, the titular Mr. Marmalade (Philip Johnson).
Things take a sinister turn when Lucy befriends a real boy, causing Mr. Marmalade’s jealous side to emerge in terrible ways.
The play takes place in Lucy’s New Jersey home and is seen through her eyes. The stage and set reflect the imaginative world of a child.
"It’s not realistic," said Director David Haugen, a professor in the school's Professional Acting Program. "We came up with the concept of a pop-up book. The back wall closes and opens. The set opens and closes like a book and the furniture pops up out of the floor."
The light-hearted surroundings are a sharp contrast to the issues brought to light in the play, including violence towards women and cycles of abuse.
Due to the sensitive nature of the play, after each performance the OU Women’s Center will provide information about abuse. Haugen also did research on these topics for Mr. Marmalade.
"I wanted to get a clear understanding of the cycles of abuse and Hope (Wondowsky), who’s an undergraduate playwright and who’s acting as our dramaturge, really came back with some great research and explained to how these things happen and what are the different stages of abuse," he said.
Despite these issues, Mr. Marmalade is a comedy, albeit a dark one, with a deeper message that will resonate with the audience.
"I think there’s this incredible message here. It’s about 'how do we sustain hope?'" said Haugen. "The world can be so hard to live in. I think what really kind of drew me into was when I figured out that I think he [the author] was talking about 'how do we maintain hope in the world?'"
Mr. Marmalade will be performed Oct. 3-6 and Oct. 10-13 in the Elizabeth Evans Baker Theater in Kantner Hall. All show times are at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 for general admission, $7 for seniors and non-OU students. OU students are admitted free, courtesy of Arts for Ohio.
Slideshow: OU School of Theater's "Mr. Marmalade"
Emma Safford ("Lucy")
Emma Safford ("Lucy"), Matt Van Slyke ("Bradley") and Greg Atkin ("Larry")
Philip Johnson ("Mr. Marmalade")
Phillip Johnson ("Mr. Marmalade") and Greg Atkin ("Larry")
L-R: Emma Safford ("Lucy"), Krista Cickovskis ("Sunflower"), Greg Atkin ("Larry"), Andy Scott ("Cactus")
Krista Cickovskis ("Sunflower"), Greg Atkin ("Larry") and Andy Scott ("Cactus")
Philip Johnson ("Mr. Marmalade") and Emma Safford ("Lucy")
Emma Safford ("Lucy") and Philip Johnson ("Mr. Marmalade")