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THEATER, BY HERB HAMMER
THEATER, BY HERB HAMMER
Comedy unbound by heartbreak
Don't let the title scare you away. "Kimberly Akimbo," the dramatic farce by David Lindsay-Abaire, as staged by Convergence-Continuum is a one-of-a-kind play in which you cringe and laugh, often both at the same time.
Why does 70-year-old Kim call 35-year-old Buddy, Dad? And what is she doing in a high school biology class where her best and only friend, Jeff, is a nerdy anagram-loving student addicted to the board game "Dungeons and Dragons"?
Casting and staging by director Clyde Simon couldn't be better. As the play ekes out information about this loony family, Mr. Simon holds the farcical elements close to the vest, allowing you to absorb just so much at one time.
Kim's parents, Buddy and Patti, have chosen to ignore Kim's affliction. Kim is truly 16 years old but suffers from a form of Progaria that ages her 4 1/2 times faster than the usual rate. Victims usually die at around 16.
How do you make a heart-breaking play into a laugh-outloud comedy? Well, just watch and listen.
Kim's mother, Patti, a foul-mouthed stay-at-home mom, is in the last days of her second pregnancy. She and husband, Buddy, a gas-station attendant, decide to throw a quarter into a jar every time they say a bad word. This is intended to curb their bad language, so they think. The jar is filled by the final curtain.
Patti, with bandaged hands from carpal-tunnel-syndrome surgery, continues through a tape recorder to communicate with her unborn child, all the time believing she is dying of cancer.
Forlorn Buddy, believing it's best not to have choices, keeps him at the gas station. In one touching scene, Buddy, sitting in his car, has the tape recorder, and he too talks sadly about life to his pre-named child, Carmelita.
Out pops Aunt Debra, a toughened ex-convict. While living in the library, she has concocted a new scheme. She not only has the goods on Patti and Buddy's quick escape from Secaucus, N.J., but has hijacked a mailbox full of checks. Her detailed scam drags Kim and Jeff into her latest criminal mess.
The plot runs circles around its characters, but the actors at Convergence-Continuum keep up with it in spades.
Marsha Mandell's portrayal of Kim is the result of perfect casting and fine acting. Her Kim has come to terms with her condition. Kim just wants to escape to all the theme parks in America and to get just one kiss.
Scott Gorbach's Jeff, the carefree, misfit boyfriend, gets many of the laughs with ease.
As Buddy, Tom Kondilas underplays the sadly misunderstood blue-collar worker, who brings a misshapen cake to Kim's bedside following her recent heart attack.
Amy Bistok-Bunce does the perfect turn as Patti, whose enormous pregnancy appears to have helped create her exasperated loudmouthed over-the-top New Jersey accent.
But it's Lauren B. Smith's camouflage-dressed criminal who steals every brief scene she abruptly storms into. The tough-talking Ms. Smith makes a first-rate failed gangster.
Looking back at all the works done at the Scranton Road Convergence-Continuum, "Kimberly Akimbo" is one of the very best the theater has ever offered.
Take the quick 30-minute drive to Tremont. You won't be sorry you did. Call (216) 687-0074 for tickets.
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