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MILK MILK LEMONADE at convergence continuum

MILK MILK LEMONADE, laugh filled, but message light at convergence continuum

Roy Berko

(Member, American Theatre Critics Association, Cleveland Critics Circle)

Joshua Conkel’s MILK MILK LEMONADE, now in production at convergence continuum, is about milk, right?  Wrong.  It’s about lemonade, right?  Wrong.  It’s about Katy Perry’s song MILK MILK LEMONADE.  Also, wrong

MILK MILK LEMONADE is about Emory, an effeminate 11-year-old boy who lives on a farm with his Nanna, his old friend who is a depressed chicken named Linda, who is about to be processed, and Elliot, the pyromaniac kid down the road who bullies Emory, but likes playing “house” with him.  Emory dreams of appearing on Reach for the Stars, a reality tv show, winning, and becoming a Broadway star.  Between choreographing ribbon dances, playing with his Barbie doll, talking to Linda, observing as the hen does a smut mouthed stand up comedy routine, and sneaking into the barn to have sex with Elliot, Emory is one busy little boy.

According to the author, “MILK MILK LEMONADE started as an experiment in memory.  It’s a  collage of images, ideas and memories, many of which are completely false, from my childhood.”  The out gay playwright goes on to say, “I wanted to write a play about growing up queer that takes place in a nightmare landscape that expresses how terrifying life can be for gay kids in an expressive, rather than strictly literal way.”

What Conkel wound up with is a very dark, melancholy, yet funny piece of children’s theatre for adults, filled with questions of gender, life, death and what it means to be.

The con-con production, as staged by Cory Molner, leans a little much on comedy, and not enough on the depth of the tale, but, as staged, will delight many.  It could only be wished that the dark underbelly had been more well exposed.

Scott Zolkowski’s design of the chicken costume, which used elements of Swan Lake, got howls of laughter on Linda’s first entrance.  The molting as the show went on, whether preplanned or not, added to the glee.

Wes Shofner’s chicken-processing machine, into which chicken’s entered to come out as bagged or boxed Chick-fil-A tenders, is hysterical.

Zac Hudak, he of huge eyes and expressive face, well develops Emory, the pathetic man-child, yearning to be gay and uninhibited.   He longs to live in a make-believe world where he isn’t bullied and controlled, but allowed to be himself.

Lisa Wiley is fine as the narrator who interprets chicken talk and is the evil influence on Elliot.  Marcia Mandell is properly air-headed as Nanna.  Sarah Kunckik was chicken right!

Brian Devers has some nice moments as the fire-obsessed Elliot, but there was a need for a stronger negative personality which would have textured his conflicted bi-polar swings with his sometimes tender moments with Emory.

Capsule Judgement: MILK MILK LEMONADE, is a thought provoking,  laugh filled play that leans a little too much on comedy, and not enough on the depth of the tale.  Though not for everyone, it is tailor-made for the typical off-the-wall con-con audience member.