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“Kimberly Akimbo” debuts with laughs at Staller Center

Mayo stars as Kimberly. (Courtesy of the Staller Center)
Mayo stars as Kimberly. (Courtesy of the Staller Center)

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” might have hit movie theaters in December 2008, but the girl who might as well be Button’s genetically fast-forwarded sister debuted her play on Thursday at the Staller Center.

“Kimberly Akimbo” by David Lindsey-Abaire tells the story of Kimberly, who suffers from a condition that forces her body to age four and a half times faster than her actual age—kind of like a weird “Benjamin Button.”  Her condition, in addition to a crazy family, first love and fantastic casting and technical decisions drove The Asylum’s Theatre’s opening night.

There were few parts of the set that did not double as more than one set of furniture or as a prop. As the audience walked into Theatre Two in the Staller Center, they immediately saw a kitchen that took up the entire stage. However, as the show progressed, different backgrounds were projected onto the white walls of Kimberly’s kitchen. What first appeared as a kitchen turned into a library, a snowy evening and more. The set of blinds atop the set also doubled as a part of the kitchen turned library and snowy evening. The mirror turned into a bed.

The casting was spot on. Two standouts were Deborah Mayo, who played Kimberly, and Laura Ross, who played Aunt Debra. Mayo portrayed what seemed to be the most challenging of all the roles with great ease. She transitioned between angsty teenager with a fake pink highlight (sometimes) to a devoted niece in a manner of seconds. Ross’ entrance was one of the best in the show, with her literally appearing out of thin air. Robert Doyle (Jeff), Catherine Zambri (Patti) and Steven Lantz-Gefroh (Buddy) all added to a stellar cast.

With regard to the plot, it is the kind of play that can only stay happy for so long before it gets somber. The family is playing games one moment and then the next moment they are arguing or worse. Still, the ensemble’s transition was solid.

The most irking part of the entire play was definitely the ending. It just seemed particularly inconclusive, but director Val Lantz-Gefroh really could not have worked it any better. In regard to the technical design, it was all tied together. In terms of plot, it was one of those more open-ended, anything-can-happen plays.

Overall, The Asylum Theatre’s production of “Kimberly Akimbo” is a refreshing night off for those who want to relive a more comical version of “Benjamin Button.”

The Asylum Theatre will be performing “Kimberly Akimbo” from Sept. 19 to Sept. 22 and Sept. 26 to Sept. 29. Tickets are $28 and are available online and at the Staller Box Office.

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