The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Dysfunctional family delivers comical outlook on life

Kimberly is not a regular 16-year-old girl and her family is anything but regular either-but boy can they make you laugh. In the production “Kimberly Akimbo,” which is written by David Lindsay-Abaire and directed by Maria Gobetti, a family full of sicknesses and addictions attempts to find love, acceptance and normalcy in the midst of their wacky shortcomings.

Every one of the characters in the play suffers from a serious physical or mental illness. Adolescent Kimberly (Judy Jean Berns) has a disease that makes her age four and a half times faster than healthy people. Her father Buddy (Marc Silver) is an alcoholic. Her mother Pattie (Kathleen Bailey) is a pregnant hypochondriac. Her aunt Debra (Sharon Johnston) is homeless and schizophrenic. And her new friend from school, Jeff (Patrick Rogers), has anxiety attacks. Placing these characters together is just genius as it is sure to cause pretty off-the-wall scenes that keep the audience cracking up the entire time.

Kimberly in particular is a character with a lot of deep emotional issues. Her family has just moved into a new small city for a reason that they are unwilling to share with her. Her hair is gray and her bones are brittle and this makes her unable to connect with anyone her own age as she continues to age rapidly. She develops an innocent crush on her nerdy classmate Jeff and is completely uncomfortable in their interactions with each other. By analyzing Kimberly it is obvious that it would take only an extremely professional and talented actress to pull it off. Luckily, Berns is perfect for the role.

The audience has to believe that this character is a 16-year-old girl who is trapped in a 60-something-year-old body. And, Berns’ constant fidgeting in her movements and slight stuttering in her sentences makes her a very believable Kimberly. The audience is mesmerized by her detailed performance. As she sits at the kitchen table, one foot is placed on the seat of the chair as she plays with the shoelaces on her sneakers. When she hears her intoxicated father walk into the house late at night, she buries herself underneath the bed sheets. These detailed actions bring the performance to life. Yet, Berns is not the only one who deserves praise because all the actors and actresses in this play are to be commended.

The most entertaining aspect of “Kimberly Akimbo,” is the humor, which is without a doubt vulgar and graphic scene after scene, but surprisingly in a good way. Kimberly’s aunt Debra definitely wins the trophy for most sentences that are better left unsaid. She verbally attacks her brother-in-law for his drunkenness. She also bags on Kimberly’s friend Jeff who is frightened by her devious plans to steal and forge checks by using his bank account.

Kimberly’s mother Pattie is another character that truly lights up the stage. In a humorous scene, she asks Kimberly to name her unborn sister. After thinking, Kimberly comes up with a name–“Carmelita!” This quickly puts a smile on her mother’s face as she raises her hands in excitement and proudly states, “I am having a Spanish baby!” The dialogue these characters exchange throughout the play is very clever and amusing.

However, underneath the wisecracks, Kimberly and the audience are trying to piece together what the dark family secret is about, and why it has caused the family to move. In her attempt to uncover the truth, Kimberly has serious moments with all of her family members. And, the more that is revealed, the more realistic these characters seem to be.

The production is a must-see for those who enjoy humor and are not easily offended by curse words or graphic language. Kimberly’s twisted world proves that there can be love, acceptance and normalcy for any family under any conditions.

“Kimberly Akimbo” is playing at the Victory Theatre Center in Burbank every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday until Oct. 7. For ticket information and reservations, please call (818) 841-4404.

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