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Acme troupe puts a new twist on ‘K of D’

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From left, Aaron Hirst, Cole Yambrovich, Jake Kelly, Tina Simpson and Meili Monk star in the Acme Theatre Company's production of "The K of D." Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo

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From page A9 | January 07, 2014 |

Check it out
What: “The K of D”
Where: Pamela Trokanski Dance Workshop, 2720 Del Rio Place
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 10-11, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 12
Tickets: $12 for general and $10 for students and seniors in advance; $14 and $12, respectively, at the door.
Info: Visit [email protected] or thekofd.brownpapertickets.com or call 530-867-4273

Laura Schellhardt’s “The K of D” seems a strange choice of a play for Acme Theatre Company because it was written as a piece for one woman, playing 16 different characters.

Director Maddy Ryen explains that “The author’s notes on the play say: ‘This play was originally created as a one-actor play. It might be performed with more than one actor. I look forward to seeing what that looks like.’ ”

Given the author’s blessing to shape the play to fit a full cast, Ryen was happy to have a script that would use 12 talented actors, rather than the smaller-cast shows that Acme often does in the wintertime.

“It has been quite interesting to see what it looks like,” Ryen says. “Many moments in the script feel very different with a full cast of characters than they would with a single actor alone, and it was a new experience interpreting a script originally intended as a one-woman show. It gave us a lot to talk about in rehearsal.”

“The K of D” (which means “kiss of death”) tells the story of Charlotte, a young woman who can’t quite find a way to proceed in her life because of one traumatic event, witnessing the death of her beloved twin brother Jamie, hit and killed by a car. His last act before dying was to kiss her goodbye and ever since, it is said that anything she kisses, dies.

Is that really true, or not? It has become an urban legend told by the town’s young people as they sit around a campfire scaring each other, and trying to make sense of both Jamie’s death and Charlotte’s “kiss of death.” They are both horrified and titillated by the idea of the death of one of their own, and Charlotte’s power to cause death.

In her program notes, director Ryen admits that “there is a lot in this play that I still can’t make sense of…” but the cast does a first-rate job of exploring those things, whether any conclusion is reached or not.

“The Girl” (Callie Miller) acts as the story’s narrator. Miller does a masterful job of keeping the action moving and displaying a number of emotions, from happiness to sadness to sympathy to concern. She was wonderful to watch.

Camila Ortiz is Charlotte, the traumatized girl who is on stage most of the time and who has no lines, but whose face tells multiple stories of her past, her relationship with her parents, her despair over the loss of her brother, and her feelings of alienation from her peers.

Jake Kelly is Quisp Drucker, who appears to be the leader of the group of five young people processing the tragedy of the death of Jamie McGraw, though The Girl explains that the real leader is Becky Rae Voss (Tina Simpson), the bubble gum cigarette blowing girl who has the answer to everything.

It is Cole Yambrovich, as Trent Hoffman, who has the strongest presence. Like Howard in TV’s “Big Bang Theory,” his role is not big, but he makes an impression. Aaron Hirst plays his quiet brother Brett, who speaks when it becomes necessary.

The group is rounded out by Meili Monk, as Steffi Post, who plays it in a Sandra Oh-ish way and was fun to watch.

Charlotte’s parents are Alice Moylan, an uptight woman dealing with her own insecurities, and Brian Stewart, an overbearing father who has an iron hold on Charlotte, which she is trying to remove.

Kenya Oto has the very small role of Jack Whistler, and William Forkin plays his son, the man who killed Jamie. He has a swagger and a sneer that make him instantly the villain of the piece.

Sydney Maguire plays a series of Johnny’s girlfriends. Her part is very small, but she does a great job of creating different characters for each of the roles.

The Pamela Trokanski Dance Workshop is a great venue for Acme and it must be satisfying to play to a full house. Director Ryen has done an excellent job shaping this one-woman show into an ensemble piece that plays to Acme’s strengths. And high marks for whoever devised the firefly scene, which was magical.

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