KPBS AIRDATE: December 17, 2004
Minds and actions tend to get a bit twisted at holiday time. You want warped? Have I got two for you! You can spend an evening with the screwy but frighteningly dysfunctional family of “Kimberly Akimbo” – or you can atone for your seasonal sins at “Late Nite Catechism.” Both shows are making return visits to San Diego stages; “Kimberly” premiered here last January, and is now back to raise funds for the newly formed Moxie Theatre. “Late Nite ” has appeared twice at California Centre for the Arts Escondido. Up at Laguna Playhouse, it’s been extended 11 times. And it’s no wonder.
The pseudo adult catechism class is nothing short of hilarious. ‘Sister’ explains it all for you, from the lives of the saints to the proper way to dress, respond and behave in a theater. And watch out – she’s watching you – and will make no bones about calling you on your gum-chewing or hand-holding or improper attire. If you’ve ever attended Catholic school, you’ll laugh yourself sick. If you haven’t, you’ll laugh yourself silly. Whichever group you fall into. you might actually learn a thing or two along the way, or call up long-buried memories, some having to do with rulers and penance and nasty habits. The actors who play ‘Sister,’ skilled in improv and the wiles and ways of the Church, specialize in this production and perform in it for years. At North Coast Rep, Chicagoan Kathryn Gallagher alternates with Murphy O’Malley. And when they take questions at the end of their little ‘class,’ you’ll howl – especially if you’re part of a high-energy, humor-infused audience. Religious school was never like this – no penance, pure pleasure.
You don’t have to atone for having missed one of the wackiest and most acclaimed productions of the year. “Kimberly Akimbo” is back, with her batty, hypochodriacal mother, alcoholic father, her hyperactive, ex-con aunt and her geeky, word-freak boyfriend. In this darkly comic coming-of-age story, 16 year-old Kim, thanks to a disease much like progeria , is aging 4½ times faster than normal. She’s already post-menopausal and her life expectancy is .. 16 years. But nobody seems to notice or care.
Director Delicia Turner Sonnenberg and her fantastic cast bring these nutcase characters vividly to life – Linda Castro terrific as the solid, grounded Kim, Jo Anne Glover and Matt Scott as her whacked-out parents, Liv Kellgren as her nutty aunt and Jason Connors, adorably nerdy as the love-interest. The newly expanded production, at the much larger Lyceum Theatre, extends time and space where there was airless claustrophobia before. This serves to decrease the comic hysteria, though it underscores the poignancy of this sad story cloaked in a haze of hilarity.
Believe me, you’d rather be back in Catholic school than live with this family.
©2004 Patté Productions Inc.