MrMarmalade
 
Tea parties and suicide attempts – these are just two of the outrageous events that take place in the black comedy Mr. Marmalade presented by the West End Players Guild.
 
The WEPG takes a gamble by staging this scandalous production. Fortunately, they win big by creating a night of entertaining – albeit uncomfortable – theater.   
 
Lucy is a four-year old going on 40. She has an imaginary friend, Mr. Marmalade with whom she has an inappropriate relationship. They discuss things such as sex, drugs, and yes, even pornography. Not what you would expect coming from a tot's perspective. 
 
Playwright Noah Haidle throws societal caution to the wind by writing a play that makes the viewer squirm in their seat. Four-year old little girls shouldn't be talking about these things or using foul language.  But Haidle goes all in taking the viewer on a wild ride which works - for the most part. (The language and situations can get a little too crude in a couple of places.) 
 
The oddball relationships continue as Lucy meets Larry, a five-year old whose nihilistic attitude is actually quite charming. Larry is anti-social which causes him to attempt to take his own life by slitting his wrists. Really folks, it just gets weirder from there. There are dancing plants, and Mr. Marmalade's personal assistant, Bradley, who is the victim of physical abuse. Rounding out this strange world is a hara-kiri scene, and myriad dildos that flounce onto the stage. 
 
The whole production is just bizarre – but it works
 
Set Designer, Ken Clark, does amazing job in creating a feel reminiscent of Pee Wee's Playhouse. A Lego couch, and a stage made up of playing blocks transports the viewer to a breathtaking imaginary world. 
 
Tracey Newcomb-Margrave does a superb job in dressing each of the characters sans a cringe worthy mustache worn by one of the minor characters. The dancing plant costumes were fantastic and Larry's Flash underwear was brilliant. 
 
Chuck Lavazzi's pre-show music selections were perfection. Several audience members were singing along or were reminiscing about the songs. 
 
Kimberly Byrnes does an outstanding job in her role as Lucy. Her wide-eyed delivery was refreshing. Her ability to deliver profanity laden dialogue with a whimsical tone was simultaneously disturbing and hilarious.  
 
Greg Matzker was equally memorable as Larry. His performance as the depressing five-year old was brilliant. His dedication to his character was inspiring as he bared it all to give one of the best performances of a very talented cast. 
 
Another standout performance was Michael Brightman as Bradley. His delivery and stage presence prove both hypnotic and engaging.  
 
In fact the entire cast makes this crazy world work as Director Steve Callahan keeps the action moving and the scenes full of laughs. The dinner table scene alone was a triumph. 
 
While Mr. Marmalade may not be for everyone it is fun and engaging theater. Not for the faint of heart, this production is for those of you who like your off-beat comedy with a whole lot of raunchy scenes. In their 104th season, the West End Players Guild continues to keep small theater in St. Louis edgy and entertaining. 
 
Mr. Marmalade plays through February 22nd. Please visit westendplayers.org for show times and ticket prices. 
 
You can follow me on Twitter @ReviewerJim
 
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