Darlene Wendels / The Collegian
Theatre arts major Skylar Monteirth (left) as the play’s namesake, ‘Mr. Marmalade’ and Danielle Valdivia (right) as Lucy during a performance in the Lab School Theatre on campus on Wednesday.
Fresno State’s Experimental Theatre Company’s adaptation of “Mr. Marmalade” debuts this weekend at the Lab School Theatre for a nostalgic trip down the quirky, twisted world of childhood.
“Mr. Marmalade” tells the story of 4-year-old Lucy and her tumultuous journey coming to terms with real-life chaos. Often neglected by both her mother and babysitter, Lucy learns to adapt on her own the only way she knows how: through imagination. What sets this production apart, however, is that little Lucy’s imagination may just be darker than most.
Students will have the opportunity to relive childhood curiosity, brought to life fresh and anew again by several Fresno State students. Theatre arts major Skylar Monteirth, plays Lucy’s larger-than-life imaginary friend, Mr. Marmalade.
“I get to play an interesting character and relive some of my own inner demons,” Monteirth said. “He’s a very selfish character, so it can be fun to play the bad guy.”
Freshman theatre arts major Danielle Valdivia will make her debut performance as Lucy. Valdivia spoke about the darker than usual subject material for the performance, adding that for many people life isn’t always as pleasant during childhood as depicted on TV shows and film.
“When you are a kid and you see your parents fighting,” Valdivia said, “it sticks with you, even if you don’t fully comprehend it as a child. You remember it and start repeating, and that’s what kids do—they learn by example.”
Caught on an uneven, rampant road of existentialism, drug abuse, broken bodies and the destruction of the “American dream,” “Mr. Marmalade” is a satiric production of innocence lost, intermixed with comedic relief complete with New Jersey accents, dancing pottery and an endearing personal assistant.
In one scene, Mr. Marmalade watches from the couch an episode of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” reminiscent of a happier neighborhood friend juxtaposed with the drinking, cocaine-snorting Marmalade himself.
“The whole show is interesting,” Valdivia said. “There’s parts where you’ll find yourself laughing, but then you’ll stop and think why am I laughing? This is not OK to laugh at, but you’ll still laugh anyways, because it’s funny. It’s written to make you think.”
Monteirth also said that the production was very applicable to the college experience and that by leading as a bad example, bad things can happen.
“There’s a lot of people our age that are getting married, having kids and having arguments with their significant others, spouses, boyfriends or whatever they are dealing with,” Monteirth said. “You do need to know what you can say in front of people, because kids are young, but they are still listening.”
From basket weaving to petty larceny, the production boasts a quirky, in-depth look at the divide between fantasy and reality, with “everything that we were promised” versus everything that humanity deserves—all set within a Dorito and Twinkie-filled child’s playroom.
“The subject matter is just so out there, I fell in love with the quirks that the playwright put in,” director Austin Yarborough said. “It’s about what you hold on to when you grow up, that we are always listening.”
The Experimental Theatre Company performs today at 4 and 8 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 and available online at www.fresnostate.edu/theatrearts or at the door.