Moonbox's "Kimberly Akimbo": Funeral or Real Fun?

Micah Greene, Andrew Winson & Sheriden Thomas in "Kimberly Akimbo"
(photo: Sharman Altshuler)

There are two arresting images on the stage of the Calderwood Pavilion's Plaza Theatre at the beginning of Moonbox Productions' latest offering,“Kimberly Akimbo”, the 2000 comedy by Pulitzer Prize winning South Boston native David Lindsay-Abaire (“Rabbit Hole”, “Fuddy Meers”, “Shrek the Musical”, “High Fidelity”, “Good People”). One is a clock on the wall of a disheveled living room, the other a fast food take-out bag on a kitchen table. The clock has no hands and the container sports a logo (designed by a former Moonbox nonprofit partner, Youth Design) from a local drive-through by the name of Zippy Burger. They're emblematic of the attention to detail that this production pays, and it pays off. It's a wacky and weird hoot, especially if you're into anagrams (but more about that later). It's the story of lonely sixteen year old Kimberly (Sheriden Thomas), who has quite a lot on her plate. She has to deal with her chaotically dysfunctional family, consisting of her very pregnant hypochondriacal mother Pattie (Micah Greene), her wacky aunt Debra (Shana Dirik) who's lately been living in the public library, and her phlegmatic alcoholic gas station attendant father Buddy (Andrew Winson). Not only that, but she's suffering from a rare disease (referred to as “progeria without the dwarfism”) that causes her to age four and a half times faster than normal. (And then there's the mysteriously abrupt move they've made from Secaucus to Bogota, New Jersey). Kimberly is befriended by a schoolmate, the nerdy Jeff (Lucas Cardona), who works at the aforementioned burger joint, is neglected by his father, wants to make her the subject of his writing project, and is quite obsessed with word games. (He tells her that her full name, Kimberly Levaco, is an anagram for “cleverly akimbo”, which is how his skewed mind works). It's not so coincidentally her sixteenth birthday, the age at which most people die from her disease.

That's already an exhausting amount of information to digest, and things get curiouser and curiouser as we immerse ourselves deeper and deeper into this, uh, rabbit hole. Under the wondrous Direction of Allison Olivia Choat, this cast takes us along for this increasingly zany yet hilariously lunatic ride. Central to the mayhem is Kimberly herself, as believably as well as beautifully embodied by Thomas, whose skeptical but innocent coming-of-aging is amazingly portrayed by her every expression and gesture. She's evenly matched by the appropriately manic performance of Winson, who nails his character's Joisey accent as well as his roller coaster persona. The same could be said for the neurotically self-centered Pattie portrayed by Greene and the crazed and criminal Debra inhabited by Dirik, not to mention the creepily engaging Jeff played by Cardona, a youthful discovery who's more than capable of holding his own with the other seasoned performers. Even as the play spirals more and more away from anything remotely resembling the norm, they all keep this careening vehicle on course. Lindsay-Abaire's knack for creating off-the-ceiling characters has never been funnier, but he has some serious thoughts to share as well. This is all ably abetted by the amusingly trashy Set Design by John Paul Devlin, the wild Costume Design by Susanne Miller, fine Lighting Design by Jeffrey E. Salzberg, Music Composition by Dan Rodriguez, and, at the wonderfully absurd denouement, the effective Projection Design by Matthew Houstle. The cast and creative team are clearly on the same fringe-tattered page.

This is about as black as humor gets, and the magicians at Moonbox manage to pull it off just about as colorfully as one could hope for. As Jeff might put it, as in the heading above, this is a comedy, not a “funeral”. Which, also not coincidentally, is an anagram for “real fun”.

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