Though that future hangs over Kimberly, Lindsay-Abaire's play is no elegy for its leading character. It's just the opposite - a curvy-plotted piece about a low-class New Jersey family that happens to include her and must deal with her needs.
All the while her dad (Rob Kahn) gets drunk every night till who knows when, her pregnant mom (Marybeth Gorman) is always convincing herself she has various debilitating diseases, her geeky high school guy-friend (the excellent Corey Regensburg) obsesses on creating anagrams, and a dirtball aunt (Alex Keiper) is trouble waiting to erupt.
The play has an edge - Lindsay-Abaire gives it electric underlying tension. It's also a little too glib at times, and should be funnier in the fluent staging by Matthew Decker, Theatre Horizon's resident director. Some of the interchanges, particularly involving Gorman as the mom, are inherently funny but come off as only mildly amusing; to be fair, she has a tough role because her character, unlike the others, is not drawn fully.
The most bizarre of the characters is the aunt - Keiper juices her role as a lawless, louche instigator and a dyke with a corresponding tough mouth. These may sound like pat characters, and they are - Lindsay-Abaire peoples Kimberly Akimbo with unyielding stereotypes. What makes it all work is Kimberly and her condition, which he eventually uses to drive his plot.
This is where Torsney-Weir comes in, in a performance that pulls the production together. Her Kimberly is at once an exception, an outcast, and every girl's age-16 - a little defensive, a little mouthy, a little silently hurt, and a lot curious about a world she may never live to see. Torsney-Weir inhabits her.
Maura Roche's ingenious set is a cheap apartment whose walls light up or open to reveal cabinets, or the outdoors, or the makings of another room. The smart lighting for this is by David Todaro, and the lighthearted, tinkly background music by Daniel Perelstein. That music draws you into the day-at-a-time world of these characters - they're not exactly like people you may know, but close enough that you want to learn more.
Contact staff writer Howard Shapiro at 215-854-5727, firstname.lastname@example.org, or #philastage on Twitter.