The new production at The Living Room, The Mistakes Madeline Made gives audiences something to laugh about as the absurdity of the situation keeps getting more and more out of line as the story progresses.
The characters all suffer strange eccentricities and do not fit into any normal situation–which creates the absurdity of the plot. The main character, Edna, played by Melissa Fennewald appears to be the only normal one when the story begins, but then, as the story unfolds, stand back and watch Edna strips off her normal exterior to show the eccentricities of her character in a way that just keeps eliciting laughs. Fennewald gives a strong performance to a bizarre character with some problems to overcome.
The other female in the cast is the co-worker/supervisor from hell. Complete with a headset, think of a person who would be difficult to work with who just wants perfection at every junction. Give her an air of superiority and meticulous detail-oriented accuracy and you get the character of Beth, created for the production by Carrie Lenahan. As the head-setted perfectionist, Lenahan, is the character everyone hopes never to be or work for. Lenahan is funny in this role. The character is off beat, but not too far over the edge to be believable.
For the men, look for off the walls characters beginning with Brian Huther’s office worker, Wilson, who collects sounds and re-creates them as situations inspire him. Huther gives a funny performance from his initial appearance and just keeps getting funnier as the show continues. He’s created a unique character from physical appearances and movement through vocalizing sounds, to nervous twitches. Huther’s performance is hilarious. He’s great.
Ben Auxier’s character, Buddy, comes on as beyond the norm from the first encounter. He’s strong, a dedicated reporter, but with twists not expected. His stint in the bathtub only keeps his character in check–somewhat. Auxier works hard to develop a character whose on stage presence keeps him in the eye of the audience, although his part and character are not clean until later in the piece. Auxier crafts a good, strong character with his own demons to slay.
The final actor in the show, Seth Andrew Macchi, brings three different twisted characters to the play. Macchi’s characters appear only briefly in the show, but each one brings a different and more bizarre bag of tricks. Each of Macchi’s characters is unique and fun to watch. Each adds more to the absurdity of the piece.
Give lots of credit to director, Natalie Liccardello, who took the piece by Elizabeth Meriwether and brought it to life for Kansas City audiences. Liccardello gives each character eccentricities yet grounds them into characters that actually could turn up in real life. The story is absurd, but without some grounding could not be believed. Good job of storytelling without letting go of all strings.
Overall, the play, The Mistakes Madeline Made is a journey into the absurd. People looking for a fun evening and subtle laughs will enjoy the show. Expect to be entertained and be ready to smile and laugh at the eccentricities of all the characters. The Mistakes Madeline Made does have some holes in the script, but they are not major and the actors overcome any weaknesses and create an enjoyable outing.