13-year-old Kennedy Waterman was one of the main driving forces in last year’s Daffodil Girls at Fun House Theatre and Film (the show will be remounted at the Magnolia Lounge in the Spring). Now she takes the stage alone in Allergic Me, an autobiographical story about her struggle with a debilitating peanut allergy. The show is part of the YOLO SoloFest at the Magnolia Lounge, and Waterman’s offering is certainly one of the festival’s highlights.
Her vibrant, welcoming personality is the first thing you notice, in stark contrast to the images you soon see projected in a large screen behind her. Images of perky little Kennedy in full-blown allergic reaction mode. It’s heartbreaking to see. As a child, I went through similar reactions to wheat and dairy, and I could almost feel my own skin start to itch as I watched the slideshow.
The juxtaposition of the images with Kennedy’s stage presence is incredibly effective, because you immediately want to see this talented youth overcome any obstacle as horrible as the screen depicts. She seems to take it all in stride, however, with a bravery that could make an audience member wonder why he makes a big deal about minor daily headaches. If this 7th grader can face her fear of tree nuts with this kind of determination, why did I curse that guy out for cutting me off on I-30 a few minutes ago?
But the bravery doesn’t stop with Waterman’s allergy. For the course of the show, she commands the audience’s attention with an ease any actor would envy. She’s really at home telling a story: at times funny, charming and terribly poignant.
Allergic Me is directed by Fun House Creative Director Jeff Swearingen, who’s worked with Waterman numerous times. The two have collaborated to create a concise vocabulary for the piece, with Waterman portraying everyone from her grandmother to an amalgam of every doctor she’s seen in her young life.
To say more about the show would ruin the enjoyment.
One-person shows can be terribly tedious, even when the performer is engaging. Luckily, Allergic Me does not belong in that category. My only complaint is that it was over too soon. I could watch Kennedy Waterman in a full-length monologue and still want to see what was next.
And you’ll see her again soon. I’ll bet my Equity dues on that.
The final performance of Allergic Me is at 2:00pm on January 26th. The Magnolia Lounge is located inside Fair Park, near the Old Mill Inn (1121 First Avenue, Dallas TX 75210). Ticketing info is at www.audacitytheatrelab.com or you can buy at the door (space permitting).
I interviewed Kennedy prior to her performances of Allergic Me, and that interview will be available in a few days.