Saturday, April 18, 2015

QUICK TAKE REVIEW By Beverly Creasey Cleverly Assembled AKIMBO

David Lindsay Abaire’s wacky, totally charming comedy about life and death, first love and coping with monumental disappointment is getting a nearly perfect production from the folks at MOONBOX. KIMBERLY AKIMBO (playing through April 26th) has to embrace a slightly stilted comic style in order to pull off the absurdity without losing our heartfelt sympathy for this dysfunctional familyand without losing sight of the genuine gravity in the play.

And can this family cope! Mother carries on even though she’s pregnant and accident prone: When we first see her, she sports two wrist casts up to her elbows from carpal tunnel surgery and she can’t even maneuver a spoon. Her 15 year old daughter has a rare form of progeria which ages her four and a half times faster than the rest of us. She has the organs of a sixty-four year old and her prognosis is dire but she is determined to do everything a teenager would.

Her father is depressed, poor fellow, and he drinks. And there’s an aunt who’s just gotten out of prison and turns up on their doorstep needing money, a place to stay, and accessories to pull off her next felony. Abaire writes such funny material that you forget about the peril underneath the humor. Director Allison Olivia Choate gets exceptional performances all around from her remarkable actors and she manages to pull off a completely disarming production, so sweet that you don’t even mind the blue language. In fact you’re amused by it.

MOONBOX is fortunate to have veteran actress Sheridan Thomas in the role of the plucky teenage daughter. Thomas makes the girl coquettish, naïve and full of wonder, despite knowing that time is running out. Lucas Cardona is a delight as her awkward teenaged pal who’s hoping to be more than friends. Their innocent romance gives us all hope.

Micah Greene is a hoot as the self-absorbed pregnant mother and Andrew Winson makes father immensely endearing. Shana Dirik is a firecracker as the recidivist aunt, popping in and out of scenes with endless energy and wild schemes. Dirik’s performance is a tour de force, exploding with excitement in brilliant contrast to her niece’s cautionary, slow paced existence. Choate and company get lovely resonance from the projection at play’s end, mirroring her childhood lamp.