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The Really Real Housewife of New Jersey: 'Mr. Marmalade' at Garage Theatre

Callie Dunaway and Angel Correa in 'Mr. Marmalade' Photo by
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Noah Haidle's absurdist comedy, Mr. Marmalade is currently playing at Garage Theatre. The little Long Beach theatre-that-could presents the tumultuous relationship between the sick and twisted four year old Lucy and her imaginary friend Mr. Marmalade, with added quirky flourishes and audience participation. Lucy and Mr. Marmalade play at house, tea party, domestic abuse fight, pretend 12-step games, and Barbie. While the Mr. Marmalade script is far from a masterpiece, the cast has nurtured the play into a funny and off-color show.

The entire Mr. Marmalade cast gives strong comedic performances and has a lot of fun on stage. Callie Dunaway leads as Lucy, a precocious toddler with an active imagination, adult vocabulary, and very dark sense of humor. Dunaway's role is complicated by obvious age incongruence -- a challenge that is met by her strong stage presence and constant attention to detail. The personality disordered imaginary friend Mr. Marmalade is played by Angel Correa who renders Mr. Marmalade akin to a make-believe Gordon Gekko with his striking presence and acerbic delivery of sarcasm. A talented supporting cast consisting of AJ Pacheco, Joe Howells, and Matthew Anderson, keeps the plot afloat with well executed and quirky characters; but notable mention and clear audience favorite Amy Louise Sebelius enduces the sort of deep laughter that makes bladder control difficult.

Direction by Oliva Trevino is good overall, although there are moments where the show walks a find line between slightly over doing the farcical aspects of the show and not. Haidle's script lacks some efficiency, but quickly recovers with bizarrely memorable scenes. Set design by Jimmy Oh and Costuming by Bethany Deal are appropriately loud, colorful, and messy, exactly what a four year old would want.

Mr. Marmalade is playing through May 21, 2011 at Garage Theatre. Tickets are available online or via phone at 866-811-4111.