What's it about?
Robot and loving son FRED decides to take his comatose mother to a retirement home near Pluto after two centuries in Phoenix, Arizona, hoping for a change of scenery and a little excitement.
However, FRED doesn't expect the excitement that comes when a Carpenters cover band awakens his mother.
What'd I experience?
I have no idea how to write this article. To be honest, I can't really write this article. I don't want to talk about this show.
This show was supposed to be funny. And it was, it was hilarious most of the time. There's nothing that gets the good humors flowing like over-the-top dance scenes that transition into every new scene.
The show was incredibly funny, until suddenly it wasn't. And, as the story progressed, I realized very quickly that I was really, utterly, desperately not the person who should be covering this show. Like, being completely straight here, it took just about all of the willpower I had to not be sobbing in the middle of this excited, drunk-as-all-ever-loving-hell crowd.
You know what FRED is about? it's about that moment in your life where you realize two things: you can't stop someone you love from dying, and you have to live with that.
The majority of FRED's actions during the play revolve around him patiently listening to (and correcting) the stories of his hilarious mother, while the hilarious Carpenters cover band The Kunzigs make the show infinitely more enjoyable.
And somewhere between when the Alzheimer's starts kicking in at full effect, the stories start to become less pleasant, and you can see the immoveable face of FRED light up with realizations, I was hunched forward in my seat in the corner of the audience and wishing I didn't have to think again.
And I can't talk about what I'm thinking, really. It's a lot of stuff that I need to move past, and I don't know if I ever will, really.
As I watch FRED move his immobile mother around in her wheelchair, kept alive only with a tube, my brain is sitting six years ago. Before I was in college, just after my freshman year of high school, August. I'm remembering the Worst Week of My Life™ (patent pending), when my grandmother had suddenly gone from arthritic but able to move of her own power, to requiring a walker to get around and needing an oxygen tank. I remember desperately trying to be out of the house for an hour or two because I just could not be there. I started marathon-ing Doctor Who at that point; I'd never watched it, and I had only heard of it peripherally, but I needed the distraction. I couldn't be in that house.
And I remember sitting there every day with her and trying to have a conversation with her like usual, like nothing was wrong, but she was always coughing and I was speaking nonsense, and I don't remember a single thing about what I tried to say, just that I tried to say it. I saw Captain America: The First Avenger that early August. It was the last time I can say my grandma let me borrow money from her for something.
And I remember one day we needed to take her for a check-up. And then I visited her and we talked a little the next day. And then she was gone. And I can't remember her much now without feeling really bad.
And when FRED is sitting there captivated by his mother's stories, good and bad, no matter how out of it she gets or intense the story. I think of my grandfather. Same year, but January, Freshman Year, Midterm week. My grandpa was in the hospital that entire time. Jolly, happy, like nothing was different, he'd keep telling his stupid jokes ("Are you chilly?" "Yeah." "What about Argentina?") and telling stories about his brothers from the 40s and his time in the Korean War.
It snowed one day. My History midterm was postponed to the next day. Pa loved history. I visited him, but he was asleep. Wasn't doing too well, but I thought everything was fine. I went back with my aunt to help her shovel her parking spot. Then my Grandma came back early and all she said was "Grandpa's gone." I passed my History midterm with an 87.
So, here I am. It's midnight on a Sunday. I have class tomorrow. It's been six years. I'm trying to write about this show called FRED, but I've gone through about eleven drafts in two days because I can't write this without it being a therapy session for me, because this show unlocked a thousand emotions in me that I have been trying to bury for so, so long.
And it's a great show. I love theater that's different, that goes out of its way to make you look at it and go "What In The Shitting Hell Is That?!" I hope I get to see more shows like it, that push the envelope in just how weird theater is allowed to be. It had casual hard-sci-fi, the Carpenters, an overwhelming sense of irony, drunkenness, and the vague concept of Dancing in Phoenix, Arizona.
For me, FRED did me a favor, and I'm happy for that. I needed a good cry.
Want to see it?
$15 Student Tickets
@ Dixon Place
thru Apr. 1
What did you experience?
Let PXP know in the comments below...