‘MR. MARMALADE’ at Custom Made Theater

As a playwright, I always feel like the highest praise I can give a play is to say, “Damn, I wish I’d written that.”

Noah Haidle has written a play that’s so hilarious and dark and strange and wonderful that I’ve had to wait four days to gather my thoughts and still all I can say is, “Holy crap, I wish I’d written that.”

Mr. Marmalade is about a four-year-old girl and her imaginary friend. Being a product of modern society, though, Lucy’s friend Mr. Marmalade is a douchebag businessman with a Blackberry, a cocaine habit, and a tendency to abuse his equally imaginary personal assistant. It’s twisted and hilarious and perfect.

And this is a perfect production. Everyone in the cast is brilliant, particularly Lillian Askew and Benjamin Pither as the deeply-disturbed children and Gabriel Grilli and Daniel Duque-Estrada as Lucy’s fantasy world playmates.

But let’s face it: it’s Noah Haidle’s script that makes the evening so damn enjoyable. Enough that I’ll be adding Noah Haidle to that list of playwrights you pull out when someone asks who your influences are and they really mean who do you aspire to be as good as. Because I really, really wish I’d written that.

Mr. Marmalade by Noah Haidle, at Custom Made Theater, 965 Mission St., San Francisco, EXTENDED through Jun 20. Tickets at custommade.org.