There’s untapped potential in VLT Stage II’s Kimberly Akimbo.
By Kay Kipling
The premise of Kimberly Akimbo is an intriguing one: The daughter in a very dysfunctional family suffers from a form of progeria, a disease that makes her age four-and-a-half times faster than normal. And both playwright David Lindsay-Abaire and this play have been highly praised elsewhere.
Unfortunately, only some of the emotional impact comes through in Venice Little Theatre’s Stage II production of this comedy-drama. You can glimpse the potential at times, as Kimberly (Lee Lawler) and her family flail through life trying to cope with issues of mortality, but the evening feels too unfocused, and the performances are only intermittently engaging.
Lawler as Kimberly does well with incorporating a teen’s body language and attitudes into the body of an older woman; her voice never sounds like a teen’s, though (unless perhaps you could ponder that progeria causes the voice to age more rapidly as well). Her hard-drinking gas station attendant father, Buddy, is played by Constantine Savalas, who brings some likeability to the role, especially when he tries to soothe his enormously, absurdly pregnant wife Patti (Jamie Stewart), who’s convinced she has any number of potentially lethal diseases herself and is far too self absorbed to give Kim the attention she needs.
The cast is rounded out by Ellie Pattison as Kim’s Aunt Debra, a homeless scam artist who brings fresh problems (but also some humor) to the scene, and by Scott Vitale as Kim’s fellow student Jeff, with whom she may develop a closer relationship—if she doesn’t die first. Vitale seems the most thoroughly at home in his role as an alternately appealing and annoying geek with family issues of his own.
There are a few laughs, and the play is strong enough that we still end up feeling something for Kim by the end of the evening. Kimberly Akimbo runs through Nov. 18; call 488-1115 or go to venicestage.com.