June 2, 2009


(To the right: Benjamin Pither the boy next door who plays a five-year-old in Mr. Marmalade)

June 1, 2009



There is this little four year old girl that has thoughts way beyond her years. You see-- her Mom is too busy dating and dragging men home late at night to spend a lot of time with Lucy (the 4-year old). So, Lucy of course gets bored and makes up her own life. She creates a handsome older man, Mr. Marmalade. At first he is sweet and kind, but that doesn’t last very long.

Mr. Marmalade is abusive; he snorts cocaine and constantly tells Lucy that he can’t stay very long, because he is too busy at the office. Lucy begins to lose patience with Mr. Marmalade and she begins to become disenchanted with him.

Her life brightens up a bit with Mr. Marmalade’s assistant (another handsome man) shows up. Lucy begins to like him a lot, especially when she notices that Mr. Marmalade has been using his assistant for a punching bag.
Imagine if you can, a four-year-old girl who blurts out some pretty strong shocking words. When the Baby Sitter comes by to sit with Lucy, the four-year-old asks: “Is your boyfriend coming over? Are you going to have Sex with him?” And the answers are yes and yes. Not from the Baby Sitter – we know the answer because we see him come over and they disappear into the upstairs bedroom.

Noah Halide, the author of the play has written a hilarious play. If it were real with a real four-year-old is would not be funny. But since it is all fantasy the dark comedy is just delicious. Lillian Askew at the 4-year old is just terrific. Even though she is not anywhere near four years old, she makes us feel that she is with her credible depiction. You actually can envision a little wiser than her age kid saying some of those things.

Lucy has quite a fantasy life. She marries Mr. Marmalade. Once married, Lucy starts to hate him. He turns into the "Get me a beer" type of husband.

She meets a neighbor boy who has a basket of problems that he brings into her house. He is Five years old, and Lucy takes a shine to him. Actually she wants to see what’s under his clothes and suggests that they play Doctor. Lucy begins by telling him to take off his shirt, then his trousers. Well, hey – don’t all kids play Doctor? Everyone in this play has unrequited Lust.

Gabriel Grilli (Mr. Marmalade) is at the “Top of his Game with his multilayered acting.” The Personal Assistant, Daniel Duque Estrada (Bradley) also gives “A High-Caliber performance.” Benjamin Pither plays Larry the five-year-old boy. I have seen Pither is several plays, and he is always consistently… “A total knockout! He’s a true gem of an Actor!” Juliet Heller plays Sookie (Mother)/Sunflower and is “Flawless!” Roselyn Hallett (Emily) keeps you “Hooked.” Arthur Keng Plays George/Cactus/Bob. He’s the kind of versatile actor that we need to see more of. “Irresistible fun!” And last by not least is Lillian Askew (Lillian). "She is nutso hilarious! And immensely likable. Her acting is sensational!"

EXTRA – EXTRA – EXTRA! The Director Daunielle Rasmussen made this Theater experience completely beguiling! “Loved It!” The Set Design and Lighting Design by Marci Ring really brought the audience into a fantasy world that is both fascinating and strange. And the Costume design is the crowning glory of Marmalade. It made the play “Decidedly Special!” Brian Katz’s Graphic/Sound Design paved the way for a flawless evening. IT’S ALL THAT WE CAN ASK OF A PLAY! IN A WORD – “FANTASTIC!”

EXTRA NO. 2 – The Custom made Theatre is moving to bigger and better digs. They will be playing their magic at the Next Stage, on the corner of Gough and Bush Streets in the fabulous Trinity Episcopal Church. It’s a great space. It all happens with their Sept. 2009 show.

RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! (Highest Rating) – trademarked-

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed to many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook Section and produced a long running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))


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*Filed under: Theater, Gabriel Grilli, Juliet Heller, Lillian Askey, Roselyn Hallett, Daniel Duque-Estrada, Arthur Keng, Benjamin Pither, Custom Made Theater, Beyond Chron, Marmalade, Noah Haidle. Plays.

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