Curtain Call: Kimberly Akimbo

The older you get, the heavier and more glaring your regrets become. While you are still young, it’s easy to say you have no regrets. There’s plenty of time for second chances and to realize your dreams. Unless you are Kimberly Levaco.
The focus of David Lindsay-Abaire’s 2000 comedy Kimberly Akimbo, the teenager has an aging disease that’s left her with the physique of a senior at age 15 going on 16, which is the average life expectancy of someone with her genetic disorder. It’s now or never, and as you watch her dysfunctional, foul-mouthed  family — parents Buddy and Pattie, and delinquent Aunt Debra — pout about feeling sorry for themselves, self-medicating and blaming each other with an embarrassing lack of maturity, we hope she errs on the side of now.
Gaslight Theatre Company’s refreshing new production of the accessibly quirky piece continues through Sunday under the ardent direction of Jennifer Hill in a temporary converted storefront at 89 S. Washington Ave. in Wilkes-Barre.
The playwright might best be known for the emotional Rabbit Hole, which won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was made into a major motion picture in 2010 starring Nicole Kidman. This is fare far more funny.
Set on circular stage which ticks and tocks with increasing velocity as it revolves from one scene change into the next, the play opens as Kimberly (Judy Fried) yells at her father (John Hornung) who is late to pick her up from school. They meet curious classmate Jeff at the Zippy Burger drive through on the way home where a very pregnant Pattie (Anne Rodella) sits with both arms in casts recovering from carpal tunnel surgery, setting the record straight on a series of cassettes for the unborn child.
Blue-collar Buddy is a caring, if erroneously overprotective, father who drinks instead of dealing with life’s disappointments and Pattie’s demanding hypochondriac fantasies of death. Kimberly, who might actually keel over any minute, doesn’t seem to want much more than a home-cooked meal and a sober family to eat it with when Aunt Debra (Lori Colacito) arrives with comically questionable morals and a plan for a scam requiring partners—specifically her niece and her new friend Jeff.
A fellow outcast, the Dungeons and Dragons playing, anagram enthusiast Jeff is drawn to Kimberly in spite of or maybe because of her disease — the two bond when he writes a school paper on her condition.
The humbly talented cast maintains a nice balance of energy that allows each performer the luxury to really play with the script’s surprisingly funny outbursts and familiar, tender moments – Jeff’s surprising affection for Kimberly, Debra’s impassioned plea for one last chance, Pattie’s joy as the family bonds over a Pop-O-Matic game of Trouble and a belated birthday cake, or Buddy’s forsaken travel plans.
“What is it that you want to do that you haven’t done yet? Go do it,” Hill urges in her director’s notes for the show.
Second that. Just so long as it doesn’t prevent you from seeing Kimberly Akimbo. That would be regrettable.

Performances Thursday through Saturday are at 7:30 p.m. Sunday’s matinee starts at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 or $8 for students and seniors. Parking is available in the Fell House lot. Call 824-8266 for more information or visit www.gaslight-theatre.org.

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