The first show of 2nd Story Theatre's season is "Kimberly Akimbo", a play written in 2000 by Pulitzer prize-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire. It's title character is a lonely teenage girl suffering from a disease a lot like progeria, that causes her to age 4 and a half times as fast as normal. Thus, Kimberly is trapped inside the frail physical body of an elderly woman. She meets another misfit, a teenage boy and the two form an attachment to one another that borders on attraction. The situation isn't helped by Kimberly's rapidly deteriorating health. As if that's not enough, she is forced to deal with her neurotic hypochondriac mother, rarely sober father and a scam artist aunt, plus her looming mortality and, most terrifying of all, the possibility of first love. Soon Kimberly's family gets mixed up in some crazy money schemes. Director Mark Peckham explains that the show is a very challenging piece with the playwright dealing with sensitive issues with a ferocious humor. He uses time to deliniate each scene of the show in the first act reflecting how fast time flies by for Kimberly. Mark casts the five character roles wonderfully and obtains stunning performances from one and all that leave you laughing almost all night long.
The show is a series of vignettes that deal with Kim's upcoming sixteenth birthday and why she and her family left Secaucus. Max Ponticelli and his stage crew move the furniture for each scene quickly, keeping the show flowing along smoothly. Mark's pacing of each scene is splendid. Act one is hilarious and leads to the climax where Kimberly faints. In Act two we find out about the family secret and some very funny twists and turns lead to a surprising conclusion. Lynne Collinson commands the stage as Kimberly. She delivers a tour-de-force performance as this young woman with this disease but also makes us see the comic moments of her life, too. Lynne is at home doing comedy, "Comic Potential" and drama, "Glass Menagerie", making her a much sought after actress. Kimberly is much more mature than her two parents as the roles are reversed in this show. She first meets Jeff when she and her father stop by a drive-thru hamburger place after she froze her butt off at the ice rink. Their relationship builds during the show with his interest in her as a class project but it slowly develops into a close friendship and a tender kiss at a crucial moment in the play. Lynne's sixteen year old is realistic as she keeps turning on the radio in the car, when she explodes at her father for forgetting her birthday and when she forces her parents to put a nickel in a jar every time they swear and her outfits by Ron Cesario are comical, too. Laura Sorensen as Pattie, her mother captures the character's need for attention by her various illnesses including carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands and a leg in a cast with a crutch in her hand. She also is pregnant again so she can have a replacement child for Kimberly and speaks to her via a tape recorder that she turns on with her foot since both hands are bandaged. A gut wrenching moment occurs as Kimberly shouts out that she is not dead yet. Pattie is immature and can't face reality. She has a gutter mouth with some hilarious obscenities which Laura delivers perfectly. She is a hoot in the Dungeons and Dragons scene in Act 2 where she wants to shoot the mf-ers. Laura also delivered a fantastic performance in "Comic Potential" last season. Wayne Kneeland is topnotch as her father, Buddy who likes to tipple the bottle. Buddy is a bible touting alcoholic who has constant spats with his wife, promises to take his daughter to Six Flags, forgets her birthday and later arrives with a cake and a game at three in the morning, waking everyone up to play it. Buddy rants and raves how Dungeons and Dragons is an evil game.They leave Secaucus under mysterious circumstances that you learn about in the second act which deals with an elderly neighbor.
Will Valles who is only sixteen years old, makes a strong debut at 2nd Story as Jeff, her nerdy classmate who is an outsider like her, having lost his mother, having a father who ignores or yells and him as well as having a drug addict brother. Jeff works at Zippy Burger and plays games with her, Dungeons and Dragons. Jeff likes to make anagrams out of people's names, like George Washington and Kim's anagram is Cleverly Akimbo which becomes apparent as the show progresses. His first appearance is gang busters, entering on roller skates to deliver their hamburgers and he delivers a winning performance throughout the show. Their first kiss is a heartfelt moment and well worth waiting for. The relationship is tentative at first but the audience is rewarded later in the show. Will's reactions at the crazy antics of this family are priceless. Amy Thompson as Debra, her scheming and conniving aunt who gets the family in all sorts of trouble. Debra has been living at the library, shows empathy towards her niece's plight and comes up with a plan to help Kimberly, Jeff and herself. She is dressed like a gypsy in this role. Amy is a spitfire in this role and one of her funniest moments is when she wheels a real mailbox onto the stage as well as in her description of herself that startles Jeff. She is also adept at comedy and drama. So for a fantastic dark comedy, be sure to catch "Kimberly Akimbo". It makes you realize to live every day to the fullest and to enjoy life because time is very precious, follow your dreams.