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A CurtainUp DC Review
The K of D
by Rich See
Woolly Mammoth's world premiere of Laura Schellhardt's one-woman play is touchingly funny in its urban legend, child-like way. Featuring Kimberly Gilbert, K of D is set in the small town of St. Mary's where very little happens and the local pack of children describe the year by adding a "The" in front of a descriptor that usually incorporates a natural disaster. Thus they have recently had "The Year of the Tornadoes," but this year will beat that one because it has been titled "The Summer of Death." With a nameless narrator (Ms. Gilbert's first character is simply called "The Girl, who does most of the talking,") the story woven is like any good urban yarn -- both amazing, yet somehow believable -- pulling at your heart strings with the truth always just out of grasp.
The child's campfire tale of supernatural forces focuses on the McGraw twins (Jaime and Charlotte) who are always together and speak a strange language of clicks and whistles. When the boy, Jaime, is hit by a car driven by a neighbor's son, the entire community begins to experience some strange things. A heron appears over the manmade lake which the town is situated on. Small animals begin to turn up dead in people's yards. And just when it seems that Charlotte has been given the kiss of death (The K of D), a war erupts between her father and the insolent young man who ran her brother down. As things spiral out of control, mute Charlotte is caught in the middle faced with the only option her father will allow her to see -- to be the hunter or the hunted. The K of D is both comedic and dark and walks its fine line between the two exceedingly well.
John Vreeke's direction has created a nicely paced story-telling experience. Andrew Griffin's lighting design is a series of shadow figures superimposed on sheets hanging around the stage. The lighting effects work very nicely with Marie-Noelle Daigneault's set which is a small, wooden platform that resembles a dilapidated front porch. Sprinkled with mobiles hanging in the corners and hanging sheets blocking off the area, the set is an island -- a visual of Charlotte's inner emotional state.
Ms. Gilbert, who appeared at Woolly in last season's Martha, Josie and the Chinese Elvis, does an amazing job of jumping between twelve characters, at times in mid-sentence. Her delivery and timing are right on the mark as she moves between genders and generations. When she stops and gives a wide-eyed look at the audience before stating something that her narrator character believes to be obvious, yet obviously needs to be stated, you have to chuckle.
All in all, this is a delightful show, full of energy, which keeps your attention, right up until the very last word.