“Cuddles” Strange But Fascinating
By Skip Sheffield
“Cuddles” is without a doubt the strangest play I’ve seen in 2016. That is not a bad thing. The play continues through Dec. 11 at Arts Garage, 94 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach.
“Cuddles” is a debut play by young (age 30) British writer Joseph Wilde. You could say Mr. Wilde knocked it out of the park his first time at bat. The play was heralded at its 2012 London debut, and it gained more accolades in its 2015 New York run. The Delray run is directed by Keith Garrison; a guy who likes to shake things up.
“Cuddles” is set up like a fairy tale. It even begins with “Once upon a time.”
It is explained that a King yearned for a son, but got two daughters instead. They are the confident, in-charge Tabby (Vera Samuels) and the insecure, reclusive Eve (Emily Freeman). Eve is in fact a prisoner in her dingy little bedroom. Tabby has raised her while trying to have a life of her own. Eve lives in a fantasy world, and it’s not very pretty. Eve has convinced herself she is a vampire. She can’t go outside because sunlight will kill her. She can’t look into a mirror. To satisfy Eve’s craving for blood, Tabby lets her feed upon her.
Clearly this is not a normal or healthy relationship. In the course of 80 short minutes without intermission, we learn the root of Eve’s trauma.
The role of Eve is an actress’s dream, and Emily Freeman does it full justice. She plays the entire role in her underwear, crawling and writhing around; scary one moment, lovable the next.
Tabby is a stone-cold bitch; foul-mouthed and vindictive at work and abusive of pathetic Eve. But Tabby truly loves Eve, and would love to have her come outside and experience the real world. When Tabby meets a suitor named Steve, the wish becomes an imperative.
Unlike most fairy tales, this one does not have a happy ending. It will leave you pondering the meaning of family, dependence, the responsibility of love and the possibility of change. Yes it is weird, but it is nothing if not fascinating. If this play were rated, it would be a hard R, so take note.
Tickets are $45. Call 561-459-6357 or go to www.artsgarage.org.