It’s a common old adage; “Life is short.” For those born with a rare condition causing the body to age four to five times faster than normal, life is alarmingly short. Such is the case with the title character Kimberly, whose struggle at age sixteen to make it through normally turbulent adolescent years is continually challenged by parents who can barely manage their own lives and an aunt always on the prowl for the next swindle. Strangely, her only respite from her well-meaning, but nearly always intoxicated father and her continuously self-absorbed hypochondriac mother, is her time away from them at school where she is routinely ignored by classmates who must view her aged body as well outside their points of reference.
There is a line in Act 3 of Tennessee Williams’ epic, CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, that seems especially appropriate to the dilemma in which Kimberly finds herself: “Time goes by so fast. Nothin’ can outrun it. Death commences too early—-almost before you’re half acquainted with life…”. The dynamics of ensuing conflicts present between the disparate characters in this well-written play by David Lindsay-Abaire are brilliantly interwoven into frequently very funny moments that nonetheless never allow the audience to fully escape the underlying seriousness of the story’s impending reality. The question is, can Kimberly somehow overcome her tremendous obstacles and find a way to live more like the sixteen-year old that she mentally is instead of like the sixty-something-year-old person she appears to be?
Barrymore award-winning actress Maureen Torsney-Weir makes magnificent use of her own fifty-year-old self playing a sixteen-year-old girl living in a sixty-four-year-old-and-rapidly-aging body. Her portrayal of Kimberly through a range of emotionally laden situations is nothing short of extraordinary. From the opening scene to the very last heart-warming moment Ms. Torsney-Weir fills the stage with her expertise in capturing and delivering to the audience every last nuance of this very complex character. Luckily for all who make the effort to see this work, she is joined on stage by other cast members who each bring to their roles superb performances.
Rob Kahn, is exceptional in his sensitive rendering of Kimberly’s troubled father who deals with his reluctance to confront the situation before him by staying at least one sheet to the wind. His tender moments with Kimberly are always perfectly balanced between his character’s sense of compassion for her struggle and his own sense of inability to do much about it. As the incredibly neurotic mom, who pretty well serves as the poster-child for dysfunction in this story, Marybeth Gorman is absolutely great. She continuously walks right up to the edge of believability with her character’s antics, but never crosses over. Alex Keiper plays Debra, the street-wise, scheming aunt who while characteristically looking out for herself, inadvertently offers a ray of support to Kimberly. Ms. Keiper’s performance is remarkable for her spot-on sense of comedic timing and the authentic energy with which she imbues her character.
Some of the most enjoyable moments in Theatre Horizon’s very entertaining production of KIMBERLY AKIMBO are those involving the character, Jeff, a somewhat nerdy outcast at school who strikes up an ambivalent relationship with Kimberly during the completion of a class project. Corey Regensburg, a recent graduate of the University of the Arts, offers a wonderfully imaginative and genuinely engaging interpretation of this important character who seems to be the only one who sees past Kimberly’s aging exterior to the frustrated sixteen year old girl laboring within.
Matthew Decker, co-founder and resident director of Theatre Horizon, deserves accolades for this well-staged production. Maura Roche, scenic designer and production manager, created a truly artistic set which is as practical as it is dramatic. The walls of the set contain a pattern of lines that provides the optical illusion of disappearing into one corner of the room where a distorted representation of the hands on a clock seem to be in the process of being sucked into a vortex. Additionally, the work of the rest of the production team, which includes the expert contributions of sound designer and composer Daniel Perelstein and lighting designer David Todaro, combine to make this a do-not-miss theatre event.
By David Lindsay-Abaire
Directed by Matthew Decker
September 8-October 2, 2011
The Center Theatre
208 DeKalb Street, Norristown